Green transport in UB could be a reality
The history of the bicycle began in the 19th century, but Mongolians became acquainted with the bicycle about 100 years ago. Nowadays, the bicycle has become daily transportation for people in many countries where bicycles outnumber cars.
In the Netherlands there are over 16 million people, seven million cars, and 20 million bicycles. Most of the Dutch prefer to ride bicycles, while Mongolians choose cars and dislike cyclists who ride their bicycles on the road near passing cars. To change this view of Mongolians, in 2011, Today Newspaper organized the first “Today with Bicycle”, and initiated a project to build a bicycle road. The Mongolian Youth Federation, Young Cyclist Club, New Image Club of the General Planning Department of Mongolia and nine other organizations together revitalized the project “Ulaanbaatar with Bicycle” in October 2013, setting a purpose to encourage Ulaanbaatar citizens to choose bicycles. However, this project hasn’t been fully implemented. It’s praiseworthy that they are promoting bicycles, which do not produce emissions, are environmentally friendly, and healthy.
A new bicycle road this year?
As planned, this project must be implemented within three years to build a 143.7 kilometer bicycle road and 99 bicycle parking spaces. This will contribute to reducing Ulaanbaatar’s pollution, decreasing traffic congestion, supporting people’s health, and developing cycling in Mongolia.
The project team planned to introduce the project to people and then conduct a survey; if over 20 thousand people were in support of this project they would continue the work, if not, they would abandon it. When the project team conducted a survey from October 5 – 20, 2013, over 25 thousand people supported their project. They presented the project to a Citizens’ Representatives meeting in Ulaanbaatar in December 2013, and it will be financed by one billion MNT. Thus, it’s possible to build the bicycle road this year.
Where to build the road?
The area is important to building a bicycle road. Does Ulaanbaatar have free area to build a bicycle road, when there are so few sidewalks?
Architect of the General Planning Department and head of New Image Club, D.Khan-Uul made a plan to first build a 58 kilometer bicycle road compatible with the General Development Plan of Ulaanbaatar. This 58 kilometer road would be included in a new road being built west of Bogd Khan Mountain, on the flood protection dam near Dund River, and would follow the road from Peace Bridge (Enkhtaivan’s Bridge) to Sun Bridge (Narnii Bridge) and other possible areas. According to this project, every district is included in the blueprints for the bicycle road.
Theft and parking
Last week, Young Cyclist Club members lost five of their bicycles. They say that it happened as a result of the city’s lack of secure bicycle parking. Most other countries allow financing for bicycle parking from the state budget. Whereas, the Ulaanbaatar with Bicycle project team is researching the possibilities of building bicycle parking with the help of organizations. But this will be actualized after building the road. They also plan to select the best “Organization with Bicycle” and present them with an award.
According to the Ulaanbaatar with Bicycle plan, parking and bicycle rentals will be established at seven locations; places like Chinggis Square, East Cross Road, 120 Myangat District, Sapporo, and West Cross Road. A person who rents a bicycle would be able to return it to any bicycle rental station near their destination. There would be no need for a deposit to rent bicycles; just a digital copy of a passport would be enough. It would cost 1,000 MNT to rent a bicycle for 30 minutes and the high quality bicycles would meet international standards and be well maintained.
Secretary of the Mongolian Cycling Federation Z.Naran, who initiated and organized this project said, “We planned to establish bicycle parking for 50 bicycles. It could be increased if people will support this work. There weren’t any bicycle roads in Paris until the rental posts appeared in 2000. The Government of France started building bicycle roads when people supported the rental posts. There is a calculation that 72 million people out of 82 million in Germany have a bicycle. Stories like these show that people of other countries understand the benefits of bicycles and have made them their main device of transport. Mongolians think the bicycle makes the legs crooked. But it’s not like that; it gives your body health.”
Project to amend the related law and draft rules
The project team has implemented the following work already: to define safe areas to build a bicycle road, and to reflect these bicycle roads in the blueprints for planned roads in Ulaanbaatar. Project organizers are almost ready to build parking and rental stations.
All cooperating organizations participated in a forum on February 28. At the forum they decided to draft a project to make an amendment to traffic law and other related laws, to make the legal environment better for cyclists. The organizations that participated in the forum decided to establish a joint team of researchers and to involve authorities from the Governor’s Office, ministries and districts.
Duty free bicycles
The price of bicycles is a minimum of 500,000 MNT at department stores and 300,000 MNT at Narantuul International Trade Center. The project team believes that the price of bicycles will come down if customs tax is eliminated. The environmentally friendly and healthy qualities of bicycles are the main argument for freeing bicycles from taxes. The team started drafting a project on this change. They are also conducting research to establish a bicycle factory in Mongolia.
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