From bike-borne businessmen to BikeWalk ride, cycling is raising profile in car-choked city

A young entrepreneur in Bucharest is helping spearhead efforts to reclaim the city’s streets for cyclists to help the Romanian capital shed its “Apocalypse on Wheels” nickname.

The latter is the name of a 2008 HBO Romania documentary directed by Alexandru Solomon which highlighted the city’s endless traffic jams as well as the disregard for traffic laws displayed by many drivers.

Now, Tudor Maxim, president of the local branch of the Junior Chamber International, is aiming to raise the profile of cycling and promote it as an everyday form of transport.

Last Thursday, Maxim led a hundred or so suited and booted businessmen and women on a bike ride around the city as part of an initiative called “Business on a Bike,” according to an AFP report published in the Independent.

"We want to prove that you can bike to work and be well dressed", he explained.

"Mentalities have to change in Romania about biking. Lots of people do not imagine you can go to work on a bike."

It’s a brave undertaking. Bucharest, a city of 2 million people, has just 28 miles of cycle lanes, compared to 310 miles in Amsterdam.

However, cycling is slowly raising its profile in the city, with websites springing up to promote the bicycle as a means of transport, and a bike-hire scheme, Cicloteque, now open to locals and visitors alike.

Last month, Cicloteque helped launch Bucharest’s first BikeWalk mass participation ride, which attracted 300 riders on and ended at the open-air theatre in the city’s Herastrau Park.

There, they were treated to a programme of bike-friendly events including a screening of a film about the movement to promote cycling in the Czech capital, Prague, as well as being able to benefit from a bike workshop and enjoy live music.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.