Timescales: 1995 onwards
The Croatian capital Zagreb has seen a significant increase in cycling in recent years, which has occurred in parallel to a more proactive approach in the city towards the promotion of cycling. While the city’s progress to date can act as an example to similar sized cities, research suggests that a more coordinated approach is needed if cycling is going to continue to grow.
While there is no comprehensive information on the level of cycling in Zagreb, estimates suggest that cycling’s modal share is around 4%. Measurements undertaken, often as part of EU-supported projects, suggest that cycling has increased in the city in recent years, particularly since the late 1990s when cycling was seen, and was indeed promoted by the authorities, as a sporting and leisure pursuit, instead of as a mode of transport. The increase in cycling has, in recent years, been accompanied by a decline in the number of accidents involving cyclists.
The promotion of cycling in Zagreb has changed from a bottom-up, citizen- and activists-led approach to a more top-down approach led by local politicians and the municipal administration. The designation of cycle lanes in the city began in the 1990s and there are now 370 km of designated routes. Most of these currently share pavements with pedestrians, although more recently some cycling routes have been designated on roads.
The current General Plan for Urban Zoning foresees an increase in the length of cycle lanes in the city of between 5 km to 7 km a year. A dedicated cycle lane is planned to connect the east and west of the city, along with various other measures to improve the quality of the city’s cycling infrastructure. Bike racks have been installed throughout the city. A public bike sharing scheme was launched in the city in 2013, initially as a pilot, and is still operated by private operator nextbike. City legislation has also been put in place to define the characteristics of cycle lanes in the city, including widths of lanes and their markings.
The provision of infrastructure has been accompanied by various promotional activities. As part of its annual participation in European Mobility Week, activities to promote sustainable transport modes, including cycling, are held, while a Cycling Information Centre was opened in 2012 to promote cycling by organising targeted promotional and educational activities. The Zagreb Cyclists Union also organises a biannual cycling festival, which includes workshops and other activities to promote cycling. Zagreb holds an annual bike-to-work campaign, which involved nearly 500 companies and organisations and 4,000 people in 2015.
In spite of the progress, studies have concluded that more research is needed to identify how Zagreb’s citizens use their bicycles to understand better which policies are most effective at promoting cycling. Additionally, it is considered necessary to collect more data on the levels of cycling in the city, so that infrastructure can be developed appropriately, particularly to fill the gaps in the city’s existing cycling network.