Extract from the interview with Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca (former prime minister of Romania) on 4 May 2016.

Balázs Halmen came with his cargo bike and represented the citizens of Cluj.

Duration: 11 min

Kloss: How do you get people on bikes in Cluj?

Boc: I think the municipality is trying to promote as much as we can alternative ways of transport in the city. In terms of bikes, we started a programme, I think it’s quite unique in Romania, it’s called bike sharing. We have 500 bikes and 42 stations in order to encourage all the citizens to use it. We already gave out 6.000 member cards to users. We are planning to increase the number of bikes and stations. This process is at the beginning and it’s very successful. Cluj is a very young city, last year it was European Capital of Youth, we have more than 100.000 students and more and more citizens are using the bike. By modernizing the city we try to adapt the streets for the bike system. It’s not enough, but the direction is good.

Kloss: How about parking places for bikes?

Boc: For the 500 bikes we have the stations. If people ask for garage parking like in Amsterdam and Utrecht it is going to happen in the next 5 years in Romania. Of course the culture of cycling is not so widespread in Romania but increasing every day.

Kloss: We talked to citizens here and most of them said, they are afraid to ride the bike and would ride the bike if there would be fewer cars. What are you doing to reduce the number of cars?

Boc: Two policies. First we modernize the public transport system with new buses and new trolleys. Second, we introduce the bike system and dedicated lanes for public transport and bikes. We have such a programme from the west side to the east side of the city. Of course many people want to use cars. We are in a country of cars. We have to give them alternatives. Remember someone said: “A rich city is where the rich do not need a car.” That’s very famous and I think we can do that to encourage people with this bike sharing system, dedicated lanes and public transport. It’s not so easy because it’s an old city with very narrow streets, but we have to change the mentality. We cannot change the city but we have to change! Cluj is the fastest growing city in Romania. Romania lost 2 million people, but our city is growing. The young generation is the engine of the city, but we have to change the mentality.

Kloss: How about parking fees?

Boc: I think it could be changed in the city centre. I think next year the city council is prepared to change the policy to raise the fees in the city centre.

Kloss: There is a boom now for cargo bikes in some countries. We have here one citizen who is bringing cargo bikes to Cluj!

Halmen: Hi my name is Balázs. This is a cargo bike. We want to change the way of transports in the city and develop a cargo bike curier company in Cluj. It can carry 70 kg and we want to transport goods between businesses. We also want to encourage people to use cargo bikes for shopping.

Boc: This is a good idea.

Gruszyk: Many bicycle paths in Cluj are very narrow and it would be impossible to use them with a cargo bike.

Kloss: Concerning conflicts between different transport mode users, I think the solution is to give everybody its space.

Boc: This is the solution, as I mentioned we cannot change the city. We have to change the mentality, and public transport and bikes are the solution.

Kloss: So there is this SUMP. Is there a goal to increase the number of cyclists until a certain year?

Boc: We have now 6.000 people using the bike sharing system. We plan to have less people using the car. We want to promote bikes with this bike sharing system and dedicated lanes for bikes.

Kloss: One more thing – bike friendly buildings. As Cluj is a growing city, how about bike parkings in new buildings in new development areas?

Boc: It’s becoming more and more a problem. My policy is that in the city centre we don’t need no parkings except for bikes. In the city centre no parkings and no cars. Public car parking should be nearby the city centre.

Kloss: This would be really good when this would be realised!