This year has been another hugely successful one for the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign. Record participation has been seen in a slew of countries, others have seen registrations reach levels not seen for a long, long time. There have also been a host of new countries involved for the first time, among them the little state of Moldova, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine.
A call, issued by the country’s State Ecological Inspectorate, a body subordinate to the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment, in September, served as the source of inspiration for its local inspectorates, galvanising Moldovan towns and cities into action. It’s not an uncommon practice to see such missives being sent, Russia, Turkey and others doing the same in 2018.
Its principal goal was to encourage communities to capitalize on the week as a means to address "the alarming situation created by the intense pollution of air in urban centers through car use.” Although the central theme of this year’s ‘Week’ was #MixAndMove in line with the European Commission’s ‘year of multi-modality,’ Moldova rallied its towns to respect the mantra: “Clean Air for All.”
Campaign activities were subsequently reported on the inspectorate’s message board in eight principal locations. For example, in Ungheni, at the border with Romania, a cycle race entitled "Give up the car, take the bicycle!" took place, while in nearby Călăraşi, ecological classes were hosted by a brace of educational institutions while working groups discussed local air protection measures. In Lipoveni, south of the capital, Chisinau, as in Criuleni to the east, besides cycling contests, locals were encouraged to become ‘the fastest athlete,’ and to sign up for a drawing competition. Participants were then rewarded with diplomas and gifts. Somewhat unusually named Edinet, to the north, hosted its Car-Free Day on September 22, with the central square witnessing celebrations dedicated to the promotion of environmental protection that brought together a series of fun events including "The best skateboard sportsman." And in a unique move, only seen otherwise in Germany, the city linked up with neighbouring Chernivtsi in Ukraine, which served as the final stop in a cycle tour that included a visit to Briceni on September 17. There, hundreds of citizens turned out to spur on cyclists demonstrating a healthy lifestyle that also contributes to environmental protection. Their passage was well received by locals, who came up with questions and suggestions, while some even got on the bike and joined in.
Local media was quick to pick up on similar events in Soroca, where Observatorul de Nord published an article on the importance of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK actions on "Motorized Traffic: Problems and Alternatives." In Lipoveni, Gazeta de Sud and ProMedia too reported on local events. In the southern town of Gagauzia, local TV and radio station interviews also garnered prime time space.
It may be regarded as slightly disappointing that Moldova’s larger cities did not get involved. However, according to Ina Coseru, who heads up Moldova’s ‘National Environmental Center,’ “In our small country with its limited resources, cooperation is key. For example, we are emboldened by the fact that the road-safety focused ‘Automobile Club Moldova’ is keen to lend its support to the campaign. We also must link up with the GEF-financed ‘Green Cities’ project that launched this year and includes a greener transport component for Chisinau. It will continue next year, so we definitely need to involve all the relevant authorities at local level and ask the project to support their initiatives.”
Fortunately, the state inspectorate will invite all participants to ‘report back’ and the European Secretariat looks forward to hearing of further activities, hopefully in Moldova’s larger cities too.
Beyond Moldova, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 'debuts' were also seen from Georgia to Peru, and from Mongolia to South Africa. All in all, some 54 countries got involved, which just goes to show the campaign’s reach in its sixteenth year. Roll on 2019!