A Bicycle Mayor has been appointed in Katowice, the southern Polish city hosting the UN’s COP24 climate talks. Grzegorz Mikrut will aim to increase cycling in the city. The position is independent and voluntary – Mikrut joins other Bicycle Mayors in cities around the world. The first was appointed in Amsterdam in 2016, inspired by the city’s nachtburgemeester, or “night mayor”, an independent but city-funded program created in 2014 and which aimed to grow the city’s night-time economy by smoothing problems and suggesting solutions.
Mikrut is a university professor and a member of the Polish Cycling Federation. He was appointed at an event in Katowice last night.
He said: “As Bicycle Mayor I can bypass the country’s political stalemate to deliver real action. I will now begin the process of listening to all citizens and groups to identify the most pressing challenges, and the smartest solutions, and then I will bring people together to make change happen.”
Poland has been criticized for regularly breaching both World Health Organization and European Union air quality standards, mostly because of its continued use of coal as a major fuel source. However, Katowice is also reliant on cars for everyday transportation.
The Bicycle Mayor program is organized by Dutch social enterprise BYCS which is aiming to get 50% of all trips in cities made by bicycle by 2030.
The NGO hopes that the appointment of Poland’s first Bicycle Mayor will “accelerate the global transition to more liveable cities, with sustainable economies at their core.”
BYCS co-founder Maud de Vries said: “We came to COP24 to help spread the message of how cycling positively transforms cities and to secure concrete actions. We are delighted to have been able to help Poland take this decisive step of finding its first Bicycle Mayor. It’s time for every city to join the cycling revolution and think beyond the car.”
The first Bicycle Mayor was Anna Luten of Amsterdam, a manager for Giant’s Liv womens’ bicycle brand in Benelux. She was elected to her independent position by representatives from the city’s transit authorities, cycling groups and the University of Amsterdam’s “cycling professor,” Marco te Brömmelstroet.
“When I saw the job description for Bicycle Mayor I knew that was me,” Luten said in 2016.
“I love my job! I love riding bikes.”
Her bosses at Giant were supportive of her one-year role.
“The role helps me in my day job, too. It helps with new insights. I don’t mind living and breathing cycling, although my boyfriend must hate me because I’m always obsessing about bicycles; I never turn off.”
BYCS describes itself as a “city cycling catalyst” and seeks public subsidies and corporate sponsorships for the continued expansion of its Bicycle Mayor program.