Cycling Seminar Sofia, Bulgaria
On July 6th, Dutch Cycling experts participated in a cycling seminar in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Mr. Maurits Lopes Cardozo (Bike-Minded) and Mr. Rob van der Bijl (RVDB Urban Planning) shared their insights on planning and construction of bicycle infrastructure. The Netherlands Embassy in Bulgaria has identified ‘cycling’ as a proper subject for public diplomacy to profile Dutch culture and Dutch expertise. Especially for the city of Sofia cycling has been a relevant topic that has been steadily developed by the municipality over the last years. In 2013 there was a previous cycling collaboration, the Dutch Embassy took the initiative to bring in cycling experts from the Dutch Cycling Embassy to collaborate in a workshop with a local NGO to promote cycling-inclusive planning. In the 2017 seminar there was a direct collaboration with the Municipality of Sofia and the Dutch Embassy, together hosting a seminar about planning and design of cycling infrastructure with input from Dutch Cycling experts.
After arriving in the afternoon of Wednesday July 5th, Dutch Cycling Embassy Experts Rob van der Bijl and Maurits Lopes Cardozo met with the Dutch Ambassador Mr. Tom van Oorschot and Public diplomacy advisor Nikolai Stoyanov. The development of cycling in Sofia was briefly discussed, as well as the reason for the seminar. After the introduction meeting mr Stoyanov and his colleague Doriana Milenkova (who regularly commutes by bicycle to the Dutch Embassy) arranged and guided a cycling tour through the city center of Sofia.
On Thursday July 6th, the actual seminar was organized to discuss cycling with local stakeholders. After introductions by various officials the DCE presented to the approx. 35-40 people present from various backgrounds (municipal, advocacy, media, professional, etc.) It was great to see so much interest in this topic in Sofia. The big number of interested people showing up was a positive sign, cycling has the attention. It felt like the audience was very interested in the cycling topic, and learning about experiences from the Netherlands and other countries. The experts trust that this event has helped to gain extra momentum for the development of cycling in Sofia. The Municipality of Sofia and the Dutch Embassy did a great job in organising this event, good location, catering and facilities, convenient hotel and the live translations during the seminar worked out great!
After the seminar the Dutch experts were approached by bTV, a Bulgarian national television company, and asked if they wanted to participate in an on-site discussion and interview on a few locations in the city of Sofia where there is debate about integrations of cycling traffic. The interview can be found via this link.