Cycle training for young people in Varna (Bulgaria)

By News Editor / Updated: 14 Jan 2015
As part of the ADDED VALUE project a promotional campaign was implemented to promote a newly constructed cycle path in Varna, Bulgaria. The wider campaign involved cycle training and competitions for children. More than 2 000 children directly took part in the initiative, and a further 10 000 students and adults were indirectly involved, receiving information about the benefits of cycling. Following the initiative, attitudes of participating children towards sustainable transport and cycling use changed from 37 to 59 per cent.
Despite one in five Bulgarians (over 1.5 million people) owning a bicycle, few cycle day-to-day. Varna, a medium-sized port city with over 300 000 inhabitants is a largely compact city characterized by low topology and is thus ideally suited for cycling. However, despite the road network been almost 1 000km, only about 5km of cycling paths are currently available, many of them are quite narrow and parking on them is not strictly controlled. The main aim of this initiative was to target young people (and the general public) to use the cycle paths and encourage them, and equip them with the necessary skills to cycle more often.
In action 

The main target groups of the initiative were children aged 7-14 years attending local primary and secondary schools within Varna. Their teachers were also involved to provide background information of wider sustainability issues and to encourage the children to cycle more often. The main components of the initiative were:

Practical cycle training in local schools

  • 10 schools participated, and in each school two training sessions with children aged between 7-14 years were held. The cycle trainings took place between May 2008 and April 2010 and were held in the school playground of the selected schools. The training consisted of three parts: a short theoretical presentation on safe cycle use; practical safe cycling skills by experts from Varna cycling clubs; and supervised practical training for children in the school playgrounds which were painted as artificial streets, with traffic signals and road markings.

A competition

  • At the end of the training sessions, children were invited to write short essays on what they had learned from the training sessions. Certificates and small gifts were given to the children who participated;

An inter-school competition

  • Older children were invited to write essays on the theme of 'Cycling and sustainable mobility in the city of Varna', with the aim of getting them to think more deeply about wider sustainability issues. Students from 10 secondary schools took part in the competition, and later presented summaries of their reports. The best three essays and presentations were rewarded with small prizes.
The overall information campaign was deemed a success during its three-year implementation. In total:
  • Information about sustainable transport modes and promotion of existing cycling infrastructure was delivered to more than 10 000 adults and children, both directly and indirectly;
  • Two practical bicycle training sessions were organised in 10 different schools in Varna with more than 500 pupils participating in the training as well as adults who also attended;
  • Almost 50 students participated in the essay competition, divided into 20 teams. The presentations of the thesis were attended by more than 500 students and teachers, and were judged by representatives of the Regional Inspectorate of Education, and Educational Department NGOs.
Walking and cycling
Mobility management
Eastern Europe
Milena Nalbancheva
Milena Nalbancheva
22 Nov 2010
14 Jan 2015