The Slovenia Times

Ljubljana by Bike



But is the city bicycle-friendly? Some would say that cycling is well promoted. After all, there is a free bicycle rental scheme with a respectable number (100) of bicycles available and neatly painted (in red) bicycle routes spread throughout the city. You can hire a bike by putting down a small refundable deposit and run your errands on it or take a trip out into the countryside. The bicycles are available at five different locations: Plecnikov trg, Trubarjeva cesta at Centermerkur, Bavarski dvor, the main train station and Kolodvorska ulica. Ten of these bikes are reserved for guided tours of Ljubljana provided by the Ljubljana Tourist Board. The interest in renting bikes seems to be growing. In just one month the number of rentals rose above 4000, which is ten times the number of rentals for the whole of last year. A survey made by the organizers showed that the majority of people who rented the bikes were tourists or people using them for personal errands in the city. Their favourite destinations were the Ljubljana Castle, Plecnikovo nabrezje (the Ljubljanica embankment designed by Joze Plecnik, an acknowledged Slovene architect) and Crna vas (a village that lies in the Barje, the marshland to the south of Ljubljana). The free rental scheme is part of the Ljubljansko kolo 2004 project run by the Municipality of Ljubljana. Their aim, according to Gregor Kos, the project coordinator, is to promote the bicycle as a convenient means of transport. Thus, they intend to make Ljubljana's traffic less congested and therefore safer and more ecologically friendly. However, some claim that not everything is as cheerful as the colour of the bicycle tracks. Samo Kuscer of the Ljubljana Bicycle Network points to the badly planned bicycle tracks, which are vital due to the high speed of traffic. They are insufficiently connected and full of "traps for cyclists" in the form of traffic signs in the middle of the tracks and other potentially unpleasant surprises on the road. Another problem is that some otherwise attractive tourist destinations are not accessible, for instance the Ljubljana Zoo and the Barje, neither of which have safe access, or Tivoli, the city's major park, where cycling is forbidden. The Ljubljana Bicycle Network is also engaged in different public campaigns highlighting the problems cyclists encounter every day, such as the return of salt to the Municipality implying the overuse of salt in winter and the initiatives for closing Ljubljana's city centre to motorized traffic amongst others.


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