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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.
 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.