Critical Mass #62

In May 2014, the citizens’ initiative Bitola #naTocak initiated the first #Critical Mass. Then, for the first time, we called the citizens to come out and send an unambiguous message to the public officials that the traffic in Bitola is practically violence on the asphalt that is nurtured and nourished by the policies that have been practiced for decades, especially in recent years. All this results in pushing and chasing the citizens who move in alternative ways (on foot, on bike, with supportive equipment due to physical disabilities, parents with small children, etc.) from the city streets and forcing them to switch to moving by car as the only way which is safe under the given conditions. Here, after 8 years, the city is not only facing the same problem, but is starting to relentlessly fight with the sudden increase in the number of vehicles, which creates an additional suffocating traffic jam, and citizens who want to be active and move in alternative ways to be thrown into the fire along with the heavyweights on the streets.

What we expect from local elected officials is to show a rudimentary sense of safety to move around the city and invest in sustainable modes of movement through safe and comfortable pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. As concerned citizens, we have always been an ally of the Municipality, pointing out to the local authorities that this traffic system is unsustainable and that the Municipality, after decades of investment only in the replacement of asphalt and widening of the streets for the purpose of flow and comfort for cars, it is time to turn back and to see that he has forgotten his citizens who move daily in the city streets in extremely unsafe conditions.

In spite of the fact that the citizens came out on the streets 61 times with clear messages, the influence of the Municipality remains 0 kilometers of bicycle infrastructure built. In the meantime, numerous widened and newly opened streets are being built without planning bicycle traffic. Numerous promises for a final turnaround and planning of investments, so that Bitola becomes first of all a city for people, and not a city choked with motor vehicles. In the last local elections all parties and groups that make up the city Council were UNANIMOUS that our reactions are justified and necessary and that they will advocate for changes in traffic planning. When we already have that consensus, we see no reason for further delays. Bitola can become a cycling city in one mandate if it is set as a strategic objective. For now, we don’t see that. While the whole world invests in sustainable lifestyles, we remain stuck in the past.

You can see more photos from the event here.