TACTICAL URBANISM TAKES A NEW FORM – A STREET IN THE POLISH CITY OF JAROCIN IS NAMED ‘WORLD BICYCLE DAY AVENUE’

Mayor of the City of Jarocin in Poland, Adam Pawlicki has named a street as the ‘World Bicycle Day Avenue’ – showing initiative to create a historic landmark.

On 12th April 2018, the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution and declared 3rd June as the ‘World Bicycle Day.’

Ever since, this day is observed as a day of celebration around the world and it ‘acknowledges the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation, fostering environmental stewardship and health’.

World Bicycle Day Street is a global campaign that strengthens local capacity resources, and it is spearheaded by a former Polish Cyclist, Dr. Leszek Sibilski.

Commenting about the naming of the street Adam Pawlicki says “Leszek Sibilski is a native of Jarocin region and founded the World Bicycle Day along with the United Nations. Being a proud citizen of Jarocin, I approached the City Council in Jarocin with a proposal that we should appreciate Jarociniak’s accomplishments by naming one of the streets in the city that is personally close to us – the Avenue of the World Bicycle Day and they approved it”.

As a city that emphasizes environmental protection, Jarocin’s naming of World Bicycle Day Avenue fit nicely with its goals to counter climate change, build sustainable lifestyles, and enhance community engagement to promote active mobility among family and friends. Mayor Adam Pawlicki believes that this idea will inspire people and society at large to bond over bicycles.

Tactical Urbanism:

Tactical urbanism includes low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment, usually in cities, intended to improve local neighbourhoods and city gathering places. Global cities like Paris, Bogota, Milan and London have adopted this technique during the pandemic as a measure of green-recovery in the post-Covid world.

The role of a city Mayor is crucial in accelerating sustainable urbanization by setting up such novel initiatives of tactical urbanism. Janette Sadiq Khan for instance – is a former Mayor of New York City who first introduced the idea of tactical urbanism and transformed spaces into a more people-friendly ambience. And naming a street as the World Bicycle Day Avenue is a bold step and a key component towards building a resilient cycling city for Jarocin.

Adam Pawlicki has the vision to scale up this project and make it even more successful. He says “We have already prepared commemorative plaques with the name of the world’s first World Bicycle Day Avenue and handed them over to the United Nations top diplomats through Dr. Leszek Sibilski. We have also sent them to the President of the Polish Cycling Association to show that it is a big opportunity for us and that we will undertake various activities to promote a bicycle festival in the countryside, in the city, in the country, and in the world. We already have a plan to call the next path the Boulevard of the World Bicycle Day”.

Dr. Leszek Sibilski, Founder of World Bicycle Day on left with Ambassador of Bahrain : H.E. Mr. Jamal Fares Alrowaiei Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

The World Bicycle Day Avenue is a living, breathing heritage that creates value for all. Such innovative ideas will play a significant role in shaping the futures of our cities.

Bicycling also promotes tourism and Adam believes that this project sets apart Jarocin County and makes it unique and distinct from other towns and cities.

He adds, “Thus, we invite all Bicycling enthusiasts to visit our side of the world and discover numerous possibilities available to explore”.

A city is composed of thousands of streets but only one or two tends to make a mark and score above the others in popularity. Some cities are famous for their shopping, for nightlife, or entertainment, or for their heritage, which invite travellers to love, visit and experience all they have to offer. La Rambla in Barcelona, Champs-Elysees in Paris, Wall Street in New York, Chandini Chowk in Delhi or the Abbey Road in London are some of the most famous streets in the world. They are all known for their distinct features and unique offerings to travellers and visitors. Likewise, the idea behind the naming of World Bicycle Day Avenue is to set a precedent that cities should value and endeavour to create great cycling cultures by improving facilities and infrastructure for riders of all levels.

Adam Pawlicki cycling in Jarocin, Poland.

Mayor Pawlicki says “The construction of bicycle routes is already planned with investments for road construction and renovation to maximize bicycling in Jarocin County and improve quality of life. Further, our focus is to capitalize on the rural cycling culture by deploying investments, providing adequate infrastructure and accelerating the momentum”.

The World Bicycle Day Street project aims to go big by not just naming its streets but also becoming famous for its cycling tradition. Jarocin’s World Bicycle Day Avenue is a great beginning, which has already caught the eye of not only Poland but the family of nations overall.

“This is just a beginning as we want to go beyond borders and every County, Town, City or Village in the world should have a street named as the ‘World Bicycle Day Avenue’ or ‘World Bicycle Day Street’ or ‘World Bicycle Day Plaza’ or ‘World Bicycle Day Boulevard’ or any other” explains the Mayor.

Role of a Bicycle:

The UN General Assembly recognizes that synergy between bicycle and rider fosters creativity, social engagement and appreciation of the local environment. They further recognize that the bicycle serves not only as a tool for transportation but also as a tool for development, allowing riders of all types to access education, healthcare and sports. Cutting across cultures and value systems, the bicycle transforms not only physical bodies into healthier ones but also struggling communities into vibrant ones – opening up possibilities for connection, communication and camaraderie. It is low maintenance, low cost and high yield vehicle. Forever in vogue, both aesthetically and functionally, the actively mobile, eco-friendly bicycle brings children, parents, and communities together in a spirit of progress, unity and forwardness – eradicating social disparities. The Bicycle has a rich past, a growing present and a phenomenal future. Hail to the Bicycle!

Cover Image Credit: Szymon Gruchalski

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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai

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