More than a bike. How PraRovar turned into a forum about the city



From recreational cycling to riding with children and urban activism. On November 23-25, the second international cycling forum "PraRovar" was held in Brest. What joint decisions did bike activists come to, what has changed in the Belarusian cycling movement over the year, who is interested in partnership with cycling organizations? Summing up and fixing ideas.

From recreational cycling to riding with children and urban activism. On November 23-25, the second international cycling forum "PraRovar" was held in Brest. What joint decisions did bike activists come to, what has changed in the Belarusian cycling movement over the year, who is interested in partnership with cycling organizations? Summing up and fixing ideas.
Approved by the city administration
The second bicycle forum "PraRovar" was held in the building of the city administration of Brest. At the opening came forward  Head of the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning of the Brest City Executive Committee Nikolay Vlasyuk, as well as the head of the department of sports and tourism of the city executive committee Olesya Okrug.

Photo: Denis Zelenko
Chairman of the Board of the Institution "For Velo Brest" Vladimir Krasko notedthat recently it has become easier for activists to cooperate with city authorities and this helps the cycling movement to develop faster. The fact that the forum was opened in the building of the city administration is a direct confirmation of this.
Vladimir Krasko Photo: Denis Zelenko
You can be whoever you want, but you have to be an urbanist
It was not only a conference about bicycles. We talked a lot about urbanism in general and the role of urban activists in the development of our urban spaces. At the “Experts and the City” section, a specialist from Wroclaw, Cesariy Grochowski, spoke about why his hometown is considered one of the most successful in terms of cycling infrastructure and how this was achieved.
Transport consultant for Dornier Consulting International GmbH (Kiev) Elena Chernysheva presentedhow the topic of cycling to school and other environmentally friendly modes of transport is being promoted in Ukraine.
Elena Chernysheva. Photo: Denis Zelenko
Belarusian experience of influencing decision-making in the interests of citizens presented coordinator of the campaign "Cities for Citizens" Denis Kobrusev.

Denis Kobrusev Photo: Denis Zelenko
Co-founder of the Minsk Urban Platform Dmitry Bibikov collected a story of urban activism in cities that are now considered a cycling paradise and urged everyone to look at activism more broadly than actions about bicycles: "You can be whoever you want, but you must be an urbanist."

Dmitry Bibikov. Photo: Denis Zelenko
More than just a bike
With a broad perspective on urban mobility, the Forum has attracted activists from outside the cycling community. PraRovar -2018 raised the topic of any eco-friendly alternatives to a personal car.
So with presentation a Belarusian businessman spoke about city scooter rental and its prospects in Minsk Georgy Kachanovsky.
Georgy Kachanovsky Photo: Denis Zelenko
Georgy claims that in May 2019, together with his team, he will launch a scooter-sharing in the capital of Belarus. According to him, for this there is already a business model tested in Moscow, software has been developed, and there is also a team of activist investors. By the way, you can still join the project. Each investor receives 1% shares of the company for 1000$ invested in the project.
Representatives of the Mono-Wheels: Belarus community are also interested in partnership with bicycle activists. At the forum, fans of electric transport presented the advantages of moving around the city on mono-wheels, scooters, gyro scooters and electric bicycles. A presentation on the means of personal mobility in the cities of Belarus is available link
Photo by Denis Zelenko
A fresh for Belarus topic of freight bike transportation uncovered bicycle blogger from Warsaw Krzystof Gubanski. By the way, do you know that the first cargo bikes appeared in the 19th century?

Cargo bicycles are already in Brest
Children, students and pregnant women on bicycles
Inspired by the cycling forum in Ukraine and presentation activists from Kryvyi Rih Anna Atamanchuk  at PraRovar -2018 we devoted a lot of time to children's and student cycling.
Anna Atamanchuk Photo: Denis Zelenko
The team of the Minsk Cycling Society summed up the results especially for the forum research "Bicycle and Children", which showed that active cyclists involve children in their cycling trips from a very young age (up to 3 years old), and many Belarusians ride a bike during pregnancy as well.
Slide from Tatiana Zharnosek's presentation
The most dynamic performance in this section was from the VeloSemya project and the Kopichenko family from Gomel. The activists talked about how the bicycle changed their outlook on life and helped attract children to relax outside of gadgets.
Representative of the Municipality of Lublin Matey Lyubash presentedhow the bicycle is included in the school curriculum of Polish cities, and the Za Velo Brest activist Marina Chizh told how this experience is already being applied in Brest.
Slide from the presentation of the Kopichenko family
The representative of one of the most cycling universities in the country, the Belarusian State University Tatiana Liver uncovered the topic of student cycling. By the way, the deputy chair of infocommunication technologies of BSUIR is an active cyclist herself, therefore she tries to support any cycling initiatives of her students.
And about money, that is, velonomics

We covered the broad topic of the impact of the economic benefits of a bicycle at the session “Velonomics” (bicycle economy).
To say that cyclists are not poor people and freaks, but potential customers who benefit small businesses and the city as a whole is an important direction in promotion. In 2018, there were several studies on this topic in Belarus at once. One of them is "Calculation of the socioeconomic effect of cycling projects" presented Chairman of the Board of the Minsk Cycling Society Pavel Gorbunov.
Valentina Poznyakova Photo: Denis Zelenko
Also in this section we discussed where cycling organizations and initiatives can get funds from. Member of the Board of VeloGrodno Julia Koleda toldhow their membership program is implemented, Valentina Poznyakova from VeloGomel presented experience of cooperation with business, and the Gomel activist Maxim Galatin  touched on crowdfunding topic.
Julia Koleda Photo: Denis Zelenko
It was interesting to listen to Polish experience actions of the "Citizens Budget". Expert from the Polish city of Lodz Hubert Baransky said that thanks to this system, residents themselves can distribute part of the city budget to the needs of the city by voting for mini-projects. Thus, 250 km of bike paths were built in the city of ód, city bicycle rentals were installed, and cargo bicycles were rented.
Hubert Baransky Photo: Denis Zelenko
How about an alternative to the 30 Days Bike promotion?
At the final day of the forum, a working meeting was held between bicycle activists from different cities to exchange ideas and proposals.
From Sergey Nesteruk from the initiative BikeBrest there was a proposal to come up with a Belarusian campaign to motivate cycling in the spring, which could become a kind of continuation of the April campaign “30 days on a bike”. The fact is that the international action "30 days on a bike", which was born in America, is now so successfully promoted in Belarus that almost half of the participants in this action in 2018 were from Belarusian cities. So why don't we come up with something of our own, since we already have strong cycling initiatives that can unite for an all-Belarusian action?
Excursion around Brest
Another question that came up at the workshop was how to exchange important cycling information between cities throughout the year. To begin with, it was decided that the team of the Minsk Cycling Society would collect news from all cities and publish digests about events in Belarus. If you want information from your initiative to be included in such a digest, then send your news to
Photo: Denis Zelenko
To receive newsletters about cycling events in Belarus, subscribe to the newsletter of the Minsk Cycling Society. To do this, you need to send your email address to or subscribe directly to
"PraRovar" -2018 in numbers
239 applications, 185 participants (159 from Belarus, 26 from abroad), 35 cities (19 from Belarus, 16 foreign), 7 countries, 63 presentations, 3 days, 2 excursions ...

Where will the next PraRovar forum be?
The organizing team has not yet decided on the place, so we are waiting for applications from various cities of Belarus. What should be in a city that hosts a forum?
- Room for 150 people with the ability to simultaneously conduct sessions for 40-50 people.
- Hotels, hostels, apartments, where 120 people can be accommodated on a budget.
- A team of enthusiasts who are ready to take on the tasks of organizing the forum that do not relate to the program (resettlement of guests, rental of premises, meals at the event).
Do you want PraRovar-2019 to be held in your city? Write to
All presentations from the forum are available link.
We are gradually adding videos of speakers' speeches to youtube channel Minsk Cycling Society. Subscribe not to miss.
Many photos from Denis Zelenko here.
The forum was held within the framework of the project “Urban Cycling in Belarus” with the financial support of the European Union and with the assistance of the US Embassy in the Republic of Belarus.

2018, December 11th

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