Congested traffic and air pollution from transportation are major and increasing problems in Skopje. The transport has significant impact on climate change by emitting greenhouse gasses and CO2.
The most problematic issue is the lack of alternatives to the transportation by cars. Bicycles, as an alternative mean of urban transportation are used either by people that can not afford car transportation or bike enthusiasts. Bicycle lanes are present mainly in the central part of the city, but are usually blocked by parked cars.
The idea behind the project was to enable the citizens of Skopje to use own/rented bicycle as a mean for local transport; therefore the following project activities were envisioned to:
- Develop a functional rent-a-bike model in Skopje, able to promote the bicycle as a mean of transportation in the city, and establish a trend in riding bicycles in a heavily urbanized city such as Skopje.
- Increase awareness that bicycles can be used for urban transportation, not only for recreational purposes,
- Enable citizens or visitors of Skopje to use the bicycle for accomplishing daily tasks in the city,
- Establish a sustainable partnership among NGOs, Ministries, municipalities, educational institutions, private businesses etc.
- Based on the Macedonian Bicycle Master Plan, a model for functional rent-a-bike system was developed; 100 bicycles, tailored for urban transportation, were procured,
- Signed Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Skopje, local Municipalities of Karpos as well as established cooperation with partner organizations— British Embassy in Skopje, Parking of Skopje Co., The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, several NGOs,
- Three main rent-a-bike points were launched linking the Skopje City Centre (Macedonia Square) with two neighboring Municipalities in the west (Municipality of Karpos, distance 2km) and east (Municipality of Aerodrom, distance 5 km). The price for renting is set: 10 MKD (0.16 EUR/0.21 USD) per hour and the citizens are able to rent and return the bicycle at any of the three points.
- Accompanied media coverage: daily press, visits to local radio stations and national or local TV stations, as well as numerous internet articles,
- Prepared/ printed promotional materials: hats, t-shirts, stickers, badges, leaflets, posters, pens, fluorescent safety vests.
- Established web pages: www.velosipedi.mk and www.rentabike.mk. Prepared promotional video.
- Organized side event on the occasion "Day without cars" (September 22, 2009).
The NGO is advancing with implementation of ongoing and further developing of new complementary activities:
- Publishing booklet with lessons learned to promote the rent-a-bike system in Skopje and to encourage other cities in Macedonia to replicate the project activities (October 2010).
- Initial functioning of the rent-a-bike systems showed exceptional results: after only one week of functioning 507 renting hours of bikes are recorded and according to the citizens of Skopje “this is the best thing that has been organized in Skopje”.
- Possible upscale in GEF 5 in three more Municipalities in Skopje that showed interest to join the rent-a-bike system with establishing bike renting points in their municipalities.