By becoming familiar with the SwitzerlandMobility Foundation’s national network of non-motorised routes, the Czech partner was able to gain a clear idea of the measures needed to promote non-motorised transport along greenways within the Czech Republic. While the partnership project has been officially brought to a close, both partners feel that subsequent cooperation in this area is highly likely. Both Markus Capirone and Lukas Stadtherr (the project managers at the SwitzerlandMobility Foundation) as well as Daniel Mourek (the project manager at the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation) felt that ideal circumstances greatly contributed to the outstanding cooperation experience. “Everything needed for a successful partnership came together. Both sides were interested and motivated, then we obtained funding from the Swiss enlargement contribution programme. Development project implementation doesn’t get any better than this,” explains Markus Capirone.
Established Swiss know-how – a national model for non-motorised transport
In 2008, The Cycling in Switzerland Foundation became the Switzerlandmobility Foundation. The aim is to make sustainable tourism more appealing by drawing attention to selected itineraries that can be travelled on foot, by bicycle, inline skates or even canoe. The SwitzerlandMobility Foundation’s national network now covers around 22,000 km, including around 9,000 km of bike trails. Full deployment of this concept quickly drew international attention. In 2009, the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation, which runs its own greenways programme, decided to submit a project proposal with the Velobüro in Olten to obtain funding for a partnership project in the Czech Republic. The project proposal was approved by the selection committee and a total of CHF 54,000 were allocated to the project. Responsibility for managing the project on the Swiss side was given to the Switzerlandmobility Foundation. The aim of the project was to exchange experiences in the area of greenways and non-motorised transport for leisure and tourism. Most of the budget funding was used to cover travel expenses, seminars (preparations and wrap-up), and project management.
Phase 1 – Introductions
In order to get to know the Swiss partner better and become more familiar with local conditions for non-motorised transport, a Czech delegation travelled to Switzerland in the spring of 2010 to pay a visit to the Switzerlandmobility Foundation. This delegation of about twenty people included representatives of the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation as well as government officials and journalists.
The Switzerlandmobility Foundation was well-prepared for this visit. It planned a one-week programme enabling the Czech guests to learn more about the Switzerlandmobility Foundation’s network. In a skilful blend of theory and practice, Swiss experts shared the basic principles, strategies and areas of application of their model with the members of the Czech delegation. A bike tour and a hiking tour were arranged to allow the guests to experience the Switzerlandmobility Foundation’s non-motorised routes first-hand.
Finally, the Czech delegation was taken to Murten, where the SlowUp car-free day and festivities drew large local crowds. Since then, the SlowUp programme has been scaled up to cover other weekends in 18 different locations in Switzerland. The SlowUp programme also offers up to 40 km of bike and skating routes where there is normally heavy motorised traffic. The SlowUp programme is sponsored by the Switzerlandmobility Foundation, in partnership with the Switzerland Tourism and Health Promotion Switzerland associations.
The Czech delegation was impressed with the Swiss model. At the end of their week-long stay, the delegation returned to the Czech Republic with extensive know-how, lots of ideas and plenty of enthusiasm.
Phase 2 – Intensive exchange of experiences
In the autumn of 2010, representatives of the Switzerlandmobility Foundation travelled to the Czech Republic for a four-day visit. There, the Swiss delegation gave a presentation of the Switzerlandmobility Foundation to a group of 80 stakeholders. Among those in attendance were high-ranking Czech government officials and representatives of Czech Railways. In addition to sharing information about the Switzerlandmobility Foundation, discussions centred on the possibility of implementing a similar initiative in the Czech Republic. Participants asked what concrete measures needed to be taken by stakeholders to ensure successful implementation.
Phase 3 – Project completion and a fresh start
Towards the end of the project, Lukas Stadtherr (project manager from the Switzerlandmobility Foundation) attended a two-day conference in the northern part of the Czech Republic in June 2011. At this conference, the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation gave a presentation of the progress made possible thanks to the exchange of experiences. This presentation also included a list of specific measures to be taken in the future. For the first time, representatives of the Czech Tourism Agency were present, which is an indication that a Swiss-based model to encourage non-motorised transport along greenways in the Czech Republic is becoming increasingly feasible. Initial designs for a stand-alone Web site for bike tours in the Czech Republic have already been presented and designs for Web sites to promote hiking or inline skating tours are expected to follow shortly. The Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation has also produced and translated an information brochure on the Switzerlandmobility Foundation. This brochure can be found on their Web site. Mr Stadtherr’s return trip marked the official end of the project.