"Walk with us!" was the motto of this year's European Mobility Week, which emphasised safe walking and cycling and the benefits it can have for our health, our environment and our bank balance.
Skopje and other 12 municipalities in the country were part of the event . They obviously have a good motive for that, given that air quality represents a challenge for them throughout the year. The event simultaneously took place in nearly 3,000 cities in 48 countries in Europe and globally.
Since 2002, European Mobility Week seeks to improve public health and quality of life through promoting active transport modes such as walking and cycling, which are emission-free and help to keep our hearts and bodies healthy.
The week was concluded with the traditional bicycle parade in Skopje, with participation of Delegation staff, led by Deputy Head of Mission Julian Vassallo, ambassadors from EU Member States, Skopje Mayor Petre Shilegov and representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.
Ruzica Andronikova and Virve Vimpari, who are among the most active bikers at the Delegation, used this opportunity to point at safety challenges that bikers in Skopje face on a daily basis and that should be addressed by the authorities.
"Many of the traffic lights have supplemental right turn arrow. Cars when rushing to turn right tend to forget that the main traffic light for them is red, and do not care about the pedestrians and the cyclists crossing the street in green light. This endangers the safety of both the pedestrians and the cyclists who are more vulnerable, as their speed is higher. I myself encounter numerous such situations", says Ruzhica.
Virve shares the same concerns. "I have used bike to come to work. However, due to several 'close by' incidents recently I have decided to give up cycling. Let's think of ways to improve safety for cyclists and overall road safety!", she says.
Ambassador Samuel Žbogar believes that if events promoting car free-movement are organised more frequently it will encourage ever more people to join the initiative, the general awareness of the benefits will further increase and the authorities will ensure better infrastructure and safety conditions for bikers. "It is about investing in clearer air and health of all of us and of the generations to come', says Žbogar.