Volunteers of Cycling Academy (VOCA) is a partnership network whose goal is to strengthen adult activists and volunteers of cycling advocacy organisations by
- improving their knowledge and competences about high quality, bike-friendly infrastructure by studying real examples in various EU cities as well as theoretical engineering and policy principles;
- the possibility to discuss and learn from each other by exchange and sharing of experiences;
- making them more skilled in raising awareness of and cooperation with municipalities, traffic engineers, drivers, police and residents.
The Participants will visit cities with high or growing bicycle modal share like Copenhagen or Vienna and look for what are the success factors in shifting people from cars to bicycles. Not so advanced cities will be visited as well, to look for what needs to be improved and to gain insights on how to do it. During these “practical lessons” the Participants will be comparing different traffic conditions in visited cities, looking for good practice examples that can be replicated and identifying problems which need to be solved, at local and also at the EU level.
Finally, a catalogue of problems and good practices will be prepared and published to be reused by everybody interested in the information.
One of the deliverables of this project will be an assessment of the most important and urgent needs of European Cyclists, as well as a report on the negative factors that inhibit the development of bycicle friendly solutions. It will be a social contribution to future EU policies, legislation etc. in terms of sustainable transport and urban areas development, from the cycling community of users that already use this means of transportation today.
The general objective of the VOCA can be summed up as: preparing cycling advocacy social groups for a more efficient and knowledge-based activity. It can be divided up into the following sub-objectives:
- Sharing experience and knowledge about social activities and traffic design aiming for better cycling conditions.
- Collecting and publishing all relevant best practices concerning urban infrastructure, promotion, education, and public participation, including volunteers involvement.
- Comparing the cycling conditions in different EU countries in terms of legislation, road code, infrastructure, policy, etc.
- Creating the catalogue of the most important and urgent needs of European cyclists, and development inhibiting factors.
In some countries NGOs successfully participate in many areas related to cycling:
- help in traffic education and safety improvement,
- raise efficiency of promotion, support social habits and behaviour shaping,
- support road authorities and engineers in the design of bicycle-friendly infrastructure.
The last point is particularly important in terms of adult education. The principles of good (safe, comfortable, cohesive) infrastructure are not widely known. In many East and South Europe countries adult road designers don't know how to design cycle paths, because they were never taught it during their studies. Adult education and civil society involvement is the best way to fill in this knowledge gap. In Warsaw each road project has to be consulted with cyclist organizations and such a “social audit” prevents the repetition of errors and wasting public funds for useless cycle paths.
The participants will learn skills and become prepared to "teach" their municipality traffic designers and officers. The details of such knowledge dissemination greatly depends on the mentioned parties willingness to be engaged by the cycling community. However – organisations taking part in the Project will try to establish a cooperation with all relevant stakeholders and to support each other in the future.
The participants from the countries less advanced in cycling will have an opportunity to learn from most experienced colleagues coming from the leading countries. All participants will improve their English and acquire new specific vocabulary.
As almost all of the participants rely on volunteers, they will take part in the meetings and share the experience including
- Green Mazovia – Warsaw, PL
- Hungarian Cyclists' Club – Budapest, HU
- Auto*Mat – Prague, CZ
- Foreningen Frie Fugle – Frederiksberg, DK
- A Contramano - Cyclist Association of Sevilla - Sevilla, ES
- Association MaiMultVerde – Bucharest, RO
- Maribor Cycling Network – Maribor, SI
- IG Fahrrad – Vienna, AT
- Podilatokinisi Cyprus Cycling Association - Nicosia, CY
- MUBi - Association for the Urban Mobility on Bicycle – Lisbon, PT
- Dublin Cycling Campaign – Dublin, IE
- Bulgarian Environmental Partnership Foundation – Sofia, BG