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Vilnius, Lithuania (2007)

Getting rid of traffic congestion the friendly way

RobK(Photo: European Mobility Week)

Citizens all over Europe are participating in the European Mobility Week, which lasts until 22 September. The EU's annual campaign on sustainable urban mobility was kicked off by a 'day without cars' in Brussels and other cities. Thousands of people took to the streets on bikes, on foot or by bus, for once not having to worry about congestion, danger and pollution.

The theme of this year's mobility week is "Moving in the right direction", focusing on the environmental benefits of gettting around town without causing air or noise pollution. Although the campaign is mainly aimed at policy makers, local populations are being actively involved.

Roller skating
In 1,885 cities inside and outside the EU, the spotlight will be on environment-friendly transport. In Lviv, Ukraine, the bicycle takes centre stage, with a "Bike to Work" campaign, a discount scheme for bike owners, and a photo contest. People in Slovenia's second city Maribor are invited to combine sports and traffic, with a cycling and running marathon, an inline skating and roller skating day out on the streets, and a car free day on Saturday.

Spain is pulling out all the stops, with activities in no less than 608 cities and towns. Like many other cities in Europe, Córdoba is emphasising the efforts needed to make public transport, and the city in general, accessible for people in wheelchairs.

Last year the campaign was criticised by the Federation of European Motorcyclists (FEMA) for failing to include powered two-wheelers as a traffic-friendly solution. They quoted a study which claimed that only 10 percent of car drivers needed to switch to a motorcycle in order to achieve a 40 percent reduction of traffic congestion.

As part of the European Mobility Week one town or city will be rewarded for its work on sustainable urban mobility. Cities with new high-tech transport systems, upgraded bicycle lanes, or something as basic as traffic classes in primary schools, all stand a chance to win. Last year's Mobility Week Award went to Bologna, Italy. The runners-up were Larnaka in Cyprus and the Croatian capital Zagreb.

Bologna had organised a whole week of car free days, plus building a network of electric car charging points and extending the city's cycling paths to a total of 130km. So the winner this year will have to match at least that level of facilities, and who knows, add some motorcycle use to its mix, to qualify for the award.

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