Extract from the interview with Jarosław Borowski, Mayor of Bielsk Podlaski, Poland on 5 August 2016
Kloss: How do you get people on bikes in Bielsk Podlaski?
Borowski: The situation in Bielsk Podlaski is not bad, but it could be better. When we build new roads, we always plan bicycle lanes. It’s possible to organize that. 30 years ago there were not many cars, many people cycled – to work, to school, to the shop, even to the bank etc. Right now people are lazy and go by car. For example in Scotland where I worked the company offered special money if you came to work by bike and not by car – 15 pounds per month. In Poland it would be difficult to do this, because people are lazy, but we are working on it. When you create bicycle infrastructure, people will start using their bike. If there is no infrastructure for cycling, people will go by car.
Kloss: You say something that we always had to say to the mayors!
Borowski: We have beautiful villages nearby, the problem is, I can only invest inside the border of the town. But people want to travel further, so we must create rules of cooperation between communities. Because if my neighbour community is not building my bicycle path further, it is useless. I believe it doesn’t need much money to invest but we have to work on people’s mindset. It needs NGOs for active cycling who work for example on more bike parking facilities, like those that you can see in front of the town hall. This NGO organizes twice a month bike trips to see the beautiful surroundings by bike which is financed by our office. We also have cycling competitions, which are exciting and nice to watch. This is sport but I believe recreation is very important. I don’t cycle much, I don’t have much time as mayor…
Gruszyk: The Vice Mayor of Siedlce also has a tandem.
Kloss: But he is also not going to work by bike.
Borowski: In Sejny, a village at the border to Lithuania, the mayor goes to work by bike every day.
In summer when you sweat it’s not so good.
Kloss: More and more offices in Vienna are installing showers for this case. It is very important to have those bike racks and also bike-friendly buildings.