Rīga activists request temporary cycling lanes during pandemic

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Several public organizations and professional associations have asked the Cabinet of Ministers and Rīga City Council to create an additional 32 kilometers of temporary cycling lane during the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic, according to urban planner and activist representative Neils Balgalis on April 16.

“The creation of 32 km of temporary cycling infrastructure would give several tens of thousands of Rīgans the opportunity to use bicycles as a mode of transport, improving epidemiological safety, reducing transport costs and providing daily physical activity during the Covid-10 pandemic,” said Balgalis.

The authors of the initiative have created map suggesting the following routes: Āgenskalns–Old Rīga (2.2 km), Akmeņu Street (0.4 km), Raiņa Boulevard (0.9 km), Gogoļa Street– Jāņavārti Station (6.1 km), on Salu Bridge (0.3 km), Rēzeknes Street  (0.8 km), Kr.Barona Street (2.8 km),  Dzelzavas Street (5.2 km), Ilūkstes Street (1 km), Ieriķu Street (2 km),  Lielvārdes Street (3 km),  Ulbrokas Street (1.9 km), Eizenšteina Street (1.9 km), Duntes Street (2.7 km), Avotu Street (0.7 km).

In the letter addressed to both government institutions the activists ask for the cycling lanes to be demarcated by a column, rubber stops, guide posts, cones, inflatable plastic or cement blocks. The signatories estimate the initiative to cost around 500,000 euros.

“Presuming that during the state of emergency the number of bicycle rides would double as a result of the creation of the cycling lanes and be around 100,000 rides per day (around nine million rides per year), and in turn the created cycle lanes would serve for a year, the investment made would be seven euro cents for each ride,” said the letter.

The activists also mentioned several other examples of such initiatives around the world including Berlin, Budapest, Paris, Montpelier, Denver, Vancouver, Montreal, Winnipeg, Portland and New Zealand.

“That's why we ask the Cabinet of Ministers to please evaluate the possibility to support the creation of such cycling infrastructure in Rīga and, if necessary, in other Latvian cities, using funds meant for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the letter.

Signatories of the letter include the Āgenskalns Neighborhood Association, Čiekurkalns Development Association, Kundziņsala Association, Kundziņsalas  biedrība, Latvian Association of Landscape Architects, Latvian Union of Architects, Latvian Association of Spatial Planners, Latvian Automobile Association, ''Mad City Rīga'', Real Estate Developer Alliance, City for People, Purvciems Neighborhood Association, Rīga Neighborhood Alliance, Sarkandaugava Development Association and the Teika Neighborhood Association.

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