Cycling Visionaries Awards – Project Details

Adopt a dangerous bicycle lane!

Adopt a dangerous bicycle lane!

Bucharest is Romania’s capital. In Romania it is mandatory for cyclists to use the bicycle lanes. What should a cyclist do when a bicycle lane but puts his/her life and physical integrity at risk? “Adopt a dangerous bicycle lane! Then … abolish it!” was an event that took place in Bucharest and led to the abolishment of more than 100 kilometers of dangerous bicycle lanes from a total of 117 km.

Since 2008, when the first bicycle lanes were developed in Bucharest, the citizens, the NGOs and the journalists complained that the lanes were not functional, endangering both cyclists and pedestrians. But no clerk took action to solve this problem.

The Organization for Promoting Alternative Transportation in Romania (OPATR) was founded at the beginning of the year 2011.

After analyzing how the bicycle lanes were built, OPATR established that they did not comply with the legislation, the permits and the standards. The issues were reported to the two designated institutions: The Bucharest Streets’ Administration (BSA) and The Bucharest Police Traffic Division (BPTD).

In August 2011, the lack of (re)action of the two institutions has determined OPATR to petition for the abolishment of the respective traffic establishments in order to protect the life and integrity of traffic participants.

Also, in August 2011, BPTD confirmed all the reported issues. However, BSA refused to enforce the law. Not even a single measure had been taken to protect the life and integrity of the pedestrians and cyclists.

On the 21st of May 2012, under the pressure imposed by The Bucharest Court House, the citizens of Bucharest found out for the first time that in September 2011 there were built 29 different bicycle lanes. This piece of information has been hidden, of course, by BSA.

OPATR initiated the public event “Adopt a dangerous bicycle lane! Then … abolish it!”

The citizens of Bucharest got involved and documented the illegalities committed by the BSA. The violations of the law and the ignorance towards the standards and notices were reported.

In august 2012, BPTD started shutting down the first bicycle lanes from a total of 29 routes acknowledged by BSA in September 2011.

Until October 2012, BPTD had already declared illegal so many paths that their length exceeded 100 km out of the 117 km which BSA stated to manage.

The problem kept on being commented in newspapers and by televisions. It was discovered that the price of the bicycle lanes was around 150,000 Euro / km.

Although the notices required installing bicycle parking racks, none was built. The Public Administration’s refusal to provide public information makes us unable to see where these facilities had “disappeared”.

The Police did not impose BSA to pay any fines related to violations of the law, standards and notices.

The City’s Mayor, the BSA chief, refused to investigate the committed illegalities.

The General Council of Bucharest refused the establishment of a control commission which should check how they spent the money for building illegal cycle lanes. The OPATR association had also its right to present the case before the Council denied.

None of the BSA employees were dismissed from office. The institution still refused to provide public information about how public money was spent.

The City’s Prefect did not take any action that would lead to resolving the situation.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs did not respond to the memorandum submitted by OPATR and the citizens.

The Court of Auditors was notified by OPATR in November 2012. Through a paper we were informed that “the reported aspects will be considered within the mission of financial auditing of the Street Administration, scheduled to take place between June-July 2013”

The cycle paths completed in 2008 and 2011 were established only on sidewalks and turned out to be some very expensive and unsuccessful experiments.

However, on March 11th 2013, the Mayor announced that he refuses to lay down the bicycle lanes on roads and that he supports the construction of the bicycle lanes exclusively on the sidewalks.

So far no NGO or expert supported the mayor’s statements. On the contrary, both BSA and the Specialized Directorate from City Hall expressed the need to build the bicycle lanes on the road.

According to representatives of OPATR, currently in Bucharest there is no viable route with bicycle lanes for cyclists.

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