Tbilisi welcomes new 12km cycle network to city-scape to promote safe cycling

Active Travel and Healthy Streets, Georgia

The streets of Tbilisi are typically dominated by cars and other motorised transport. The growing vehicle fleet has been choking the city in traffic, congestion, and air pollution. This is unsafe for road users and poses a serious public health risk for everyone.

To help counter this trend, EASST partners, the Partnership for Road Safety, have been working with young people and students to promote cycling as a viable means of daily public transport, and working with Tbilisi City Hall Transport Department, other civil society organisations, and the media to make it a reality.

If more people can be encouraged to cycle, this will have a significant impact on reducing congestion and CO2 emissions in the city – making it safer and healthier for everyone. As such, the Partnership for Road Safety have been working with schools and universities to promote the benefits of cycling on health and wellbeing, as well as teaching over 2000 young people how to stay safe while out on their bikes – emphasising the importance of following the rules of the road, wearing helmets and ensuring you can be seen. Monthly cycle marches through the streets of Tbilisi have seen a critical mass of young people, as well as representatives of Tbilisi City Hall and the media, demonstrate the growing popularity of cycling in the city.

A critical component to making cycling a safe and viable mode of daily transport, however, is safe and useable cycling infrastructure. To achieve this, the Partnership for Road Safety have been working in close collaboration with the Transport Department of Tbilisi City Hall, cycling the streets together to map and mark places where new cycling lanes and bike stands could be placed.

Using the NACTO Global Street Design Guide a 2km area of road was evaluated for its suitability. The evaluation revealed several areas for improvement including the placement of traffic lights, bus stops and cycling lanes. This has been presented to Tbilisi City Hall and the recommendations are being addressed, while a tender has also already been announced for the construction of three new bike lanes in the city. The new lanes will mean that within the last three years, Tbilisi will have transformed from a city with zero cycling infrastructure to having a 12km cycling network with more than 70 new cycling parking spaces.

Last month, several civil organisations including the Partnership for Road Safety jointly organised a cycling marathon to raise awareness of International Car Free Day and promote the benefits both in terms of health and the environment of swapping your car for your bike. However, perhaps the biggest achievement is that the number of members of the Tbilisi Cycling Club has increased by around 66% during this year-long project.