Gdynia: Poland’s cargo bike trail blazing city.
The northern Polish city of Gdynia is leading the way, winning multiple awards with two cargo bike projects and a first-of-its-kind financing scheme.
The city of Gdynia has proven itself as a major success story within the City Changer Cargo Bike project. The city, like many others, identified several issues that required solutions. These included finding ways to deal with the e-commerce delivery boom and increasing traffic levels during peak hours. Therefore, Gdynia city officials turned to the cargo bike as a practical and sustainable solution to their problems.
The project wasn’t simply about providing access to cargo bikes, in fact, a major part of the strategy revolved around education. Kids were shown that alternatives to car ownership exist and are good for us and the climate in a new children’s book in which animals and their friends take alternative travel modes for a fun day out at the beach.
For adults, the public library ran a cargo bike book sharing system and a municipal information campaign was also conducted using cargo bikes to distribute information to citizens.
These soft measures were further complemented by social events. An annual bike to work campaign, with over 2,000 participants, was successfully organized after which participants were able to celebrate with a meal together that was, of course, delivered by cargo bike.
The cargo bike rental service began in October 2019 with three e-cargo bikes and provided residents with the opportunity to try one out for themselves, free of charge, before purchasing to experience how these incredible machines can fit into our daily lives. Initially, local influencers were invited along and were able to try out the bikes for periods of 7-28 days. After each successful rental a satisfaction survey was conducted which allowed for infrastructure needs to be highlighted. Another rental scheme was also started end of 2018 for NGOs and local businesses with the added aim of reducing the need for commercial van traffic within the city centre.
The "Cargo bikes in Gdynia - rental and purchase subsidy" won first prize in the category of cities with over 100,000 inhabitants from the national Ministry of Climate and Environment. The award is the first of two that recognize the project’s successful positive impact on the environment and quality of life of citizens. In October, at the CIVITAS Forum the city won the Legacy Award that recognized the long term success of the sustainable urban mobility plan (SUMP) implemented there. Deputy Mayor Marek Łucyk explained that “Since joining the CIVITAS community, we as a city have had the great opportunity to learn, develop and implement innovative solutions, as well as to share our knowledge on sustainable mobility. This has increased the quality and accelerated the process of our city’s development towards a green and people-friendly city. We constantly strive to provide new and better mobility solutions and enhance citizens’ sustainable ways of life and we are happy that this has been acknowledged by the CIVITAS Initiative.”
What next for cargo bikes in Poland?
Senior Officer of the city’s Sustainable Mobility Unit, Dorota Gajda-Kutowińska reported that the ”City of Gdynia will further develops cargo bikes rental scheme by increasing number of bikes which will be located in residential districts to make access to them even easier for inhabitants. They will be available from schools, or as it has been before from public libraries and public buildings, which are open for a longer time during the day and even in weekends.”
She went on to outline the next steps for the scheme: “Moreover, we have carried out initial talks with start-ups and companies in Poland who plan to rent cargo bikes using a subscription system. We will consider their offers and keep abreast of the actual situation in this small but developing market in Poland. When we talk about Poland - City of Gdynia is not the only Polish city with a cargo bike rental scheme. Based on our experience and know-how similar systems now operate in Cracow, Bydgoszcz and Slupsk. They also exist at a different scale in other cities. Based on our observation, more and more Polish are interested in cargo bikes – as evidenced by the many enquires from new people on the dedicated Facebook group - Cargo Bike Poland or during annual Polish Cargo Bike Festival which is hosted by a different city each year.”