Here in Almaty, we’re working hard to not only green the streets but also to get people out on them.
That’s why part of our “City of Almaty Sustainable Transport” (CAST) project focuses on involving various social groups, communities and movements to work together.
I spoke to one their most active enthusiasts, blogger and social activist, Vitaliy Dyadchev.
Q: How was “Velo-Almaty” formed? What was the beginning?
Vitaliy Dyadchev: Everything started in 2007, with the collection of signatures for the construction of bikeways on Abai Avenue.
We, just a few activists at that time, sent the signed letter to the Almaty city administration’s transport office, which at the time was dealing with the reconstruction of the avenue.
The letter had an impact because thanks to it, the first bike path was constructed in the city, and, furthermore, in Central Asia.
The second action was to organize parking. We found sponsors and, jointly with RTS Company, supplied bike parking lots to public service centers, municipal administrations, and other institutions. Shopping centers started to install bike parking at their own expense; for them it is not so hard to do.
Recently, in conjunction with the Rotary Club, we have built another bike parking lot near a local school. We also host events for children like bicycle races, a cycling school for novice cyclists, and information sessions for safe cycling throughout the city.
Q: What are your other activities and interests these days?
V.D: Now I am doing my blog “Almaty- the city for people” to promote cycling infrastructure, tolerance towards cycling, and mutual respect on the roads.
We are dealing with the ill-conceived organization of road infrastructure: aboveground and underground passages, interchanges with a lack of adequate ramps, hindering the convenience of everyone – especially people with disabilities.
This is an open question: Who is responsible for the existing planning and why it is so wasteful? I’d like to also conduct a survey of such responsible people.
Here we could not only get acquainted with the experience of the speakers, but also see the beautiful city of Vienna, truly democratic and owned by the people.
Upon return, reports were submitted and presented to the Deputy Head of the City Office of Transport and Roads, relating what we learned. As a result, we concluded that it’s important for the decision-makers to be involved in such trips, as it is very useful to learn from this experience.
Also, if we talk so much about attracting tourists, I think, first of all, we need to take care about the city and its security.
We have a unique opportunity to have a city in which we take pride.
But here it is important to involve the public as much as possible, in order to promote these ideas and inspire future projects.
Q: I couldn’t agree more. Looking forward to some exciting new projects to continue helping Almaty be a greener, (bike-) friendlier city!