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The Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications presents the National Cycling Route Development Plan: “Creating Lithuania’s Bicycle Infrastructure”

Date

2021 12 06

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Inconvenient and unsafe cycling paths that break off at the city borders, or centres of attraction or workplaces difficult to access by bicycle are just some of the problems for cyclists that should end soon. This is being promised in the National Cycling Route Development Plan. A map of the development of bicycle paths, a threefold increase in funding, close cooperation with municipalities clarifying the needs and more favourable traffic rules for cyclists – these measures, according to Agnė Vaiciukevičiūtė, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, will help create Lithuania’s bicycle infrastructure.

The National Cycling Route Development Plan is a visual interactive map of Lithuania created together with the Lithuanian Road Administration, which will display the existing bicycle routes and paths. At the beginning of 2022, the map will be supplemented by the bicycle paths planned to be built and reconstructed. It will then become available to the public.

“According to the preliminary estimates, about 1,300 km of cycling paths should be built near national and local roads before 2030. 1,300 km – it is almost a straight distance from Vilnius to Amsterdam. Residents of all cities and districts will be able to see where the new paths will appear and how the projects will be implemented in the National Cycling Route Development Plan,” said Vaiciukevičiūtė, Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, presenting the Plan at the municipal conference “Freedom to Move”. 

According to Vaiciukevičiūtė, this process is continuous, so there will always be an opportunity to review the priorities, and add new paths depending on the changes in the situation, such as the expansion of the city or the emergence of a new attraction.

Three times higher funding for the construction of new paths

From 2022, three times higher funding is planned to be allocated for the construction and reconstruction of new cycling and pedestrian paths. Until 2030, the total amount will comprise more than 300 mln. euros, and will be financed by the Road Maintenance and Development Programme, the European Union and other additional measures. At least 5% is planned to be disbursed annually from the Road Maintenance and Development Programme for the implementation of sustainable mobility measures, and at least 5% for the implementation of road safety measures.

In order to systematically develop paths and obtain funding, municipalities will have to meet specific criteria for prioritising, selecting and implementing their cycling path projects. 

It has been agreed with the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania that the allocation of priorities and funds will take into account whether the path connects settlements to a continuous network of paths or whether it is a connection of existing paths between settlements, when the planned path has extensions in the settlements; whether the path connects settlements with the centres of attraction (protected or sightseeing areas) that are located up to 15 km away from the settlement; whether it connects the settlement and the area where the jobs are being created (FEZ, industrial territory, etc.), and whether the path overlaps with the EuroVelo route or is a continuation of an international route. 

The condition of cycling paths examined for the first time 

According to the Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, when considering transformation of transport towards the “green course”, more sustainable mobility and changing the habits of travellers, it is necessary to ensure that the changes are consistent and convenient. 

“For the first time in our history, we have inspected and realistically assessed the condition of both national and regional cycling paths. It will be displayed on the interactive map using GIS technology. This is the first step towards systematic changes in all regions of Lithuania,” emphasised Vaiciukevičiūtė. The map will be publicly available early next year. 

Until now, there has been no state-approved special plan for cycling paths in Lithuania, therefore cycling paths have been developed in an uncoordinated manner, connections between the cycling routes have been missing, and the necessary traffic safety requirements or peculiarities of the areas through which they pass have been rarely assessed.