I am a just retired urbanist and traffic an transportation planner. Wherever possible I am riding bicycle e.g. on long distance cycling trips all over Europe. Consequently I never owned a car nor driving licence. I am member of the German Cycling Club ADFC. In the eighties I lectured technology and society of transportation at Technical University of Berlin on, organised congresses and exhibitions and did research about cycling in Africa. Since 1990 I worked in the planning department of Witten, a city of about 100.000 inhabitants.
What is your mission?
My mission is to have an environmental-friendly bicycle town, thereby placing Valsad on the map of India. My cycling journey had begun as a recreational activity. But when I personally experienced the benefits for myself and the surrounding environment, I felt I should create the awareness among people around me. Global warming and climate change are the two most important concerns of the hour in India, so this triggered me even more to promote cycling to the general public.
I really wish to see an increased number of cyclists in the town I reside in for transportation and health, and not just for recreation. I deeply intend to educate and advocate for the right of cyclists, thereby creating and preserving safe biking environment.
When I came across the Bicycle Mayor program, I felt my dream taking shape, as this could provide me with a platform to bring a revolution in a small town like Valsad.
What are the obstacles and challenges you’re facing?
My chellenge is to convince them to be rolemodels and encourage them to communicate the advantages of cycling to for their peers, possibly by social marketing. There are three big obstacles for a fast change towards cycling.
- On some gaps within cycling infrastructure cycling is very uncomfortale and even risky Most of these are to be closed within the next years.
- Witten is part of the heartland of Geman Industry, So there is a silent but offensive disregard of climate change in public.
- Many Witteners consider cycling to be as uncomfortable as it was fifty years ago. So they fear hills as well as rain.
What is the next step?
My first step is to focus on students riding to school. I will find out all possible stakeholders to work with them together. One prominent partner is the children and youth parliament in Witten.
What can other cities learn from your city?
Witten is a typical medium-sized industrial city, in general suitable for cycling. So my experiences may be helpful for many cities. The strategy to involve peers and using social media may be employed for every city.
Would you like to have a Bicycle Mayor in your city too?