Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by M Hjälm

Tine Mahkovec, Cycling Enthusiast and President of Local Cycling Club in Ljubljana

PIC © Andy Lloyd

PIC © Andy Lloyd

Tine Mahkovec was born and raised in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, the European Green Capital in 2016. A cycling enthusiast, Tine works in bicycle manufacturing and is the President of his local cycling club.

Tine and his fellow club members have collaborated with the City of Ljubljana to improve cycling facilities in the city and also encourage citizens to take up cycling.

In 2016, they transformed an abandoned quarry into a mountain biking trail, the first official trail of its kind in Ljubljana. Following the success of the trail, this once vacant plot has been expanded into a park and is enjoyed by people ranging in age and cycling skills.

Bike Park Ljubljana - old quarry

The abandoned quarry wasn’t the only disused space that Tine and his team have brought back to life, as he recounts anotheAn old quarry and bike park in Ljubljanar project to renew an old BMX track in the Bežigrad district: “The track, built in 1992, unfortunately became a junkyard. From 2006 until today we have been restoring it back to its original purpose as a BMX track. It is now used daily by cyclists of all ages.”

In addition to increasing cycling rates, Tine’s projects have also provided solutions to vacant and underutilised land, a common problem facing many cities today.

Point.For You - Girls Riding

Engaging citizens

Along with creating and enhancing cycling infrastructure, Tine and his colleagues also encourage cycling through engagement with citizens. One example of this is a cycling information point that they created at a bike park in the Podutik district. It was created using two small prefabricated buildings that had previously been used as the ‘Point. For You.’ information point in Ljubljana city centre during its year as European Green Capital.

Enjoy the outdoors

Tine is a strong advocate of outdoor recreation, expressing some concern about the lack of outdoor play for children today: “20 years ago, when we were kids, we always used to play outside. With the arrival of smartphones, social media and other technology, children are increasingly spending less time outdoors.”

According to Tine, Ljubljana is a great city for anyone who likes to spend time outdoors due to its recreational facilities and the city’s investment in sports and recreational programmes: “Ljubljana has a great network of public playgrounds, parks and green areas. In addition, the department of sports funds numerous programmes to get people out doing different outdoor activities, from professional sports to recreational activities.

Tine urges people to be respectful of nature when doing outdoor recreation. For cyclists and hikers, this could involve volunteering with a club that organises regular trail maintenance. He explained, “It is essential that anyone riding their bike on the trails treats them with respect. Regular trail maintenance keeps trails in good condition and most importantly, protects the nature present. While it is important to have fun cycling on the trails, it is equally important to look after them and prevent any damage to our surrounding natural spaces.”

BMX Track in Ljubljana

BMX Track in Ljubljana

Being a European Green Capital

As Tine is a cycling enthusiast, he considers the bike sharing network in Ljubljana to be one of the most important initiatives that led to the city’s journey to winning the European Green Capital title. He is also very proud that Ljubljana has become one of the world’s top bicycle-friendly cities.

Ljubljana's 'KoloPark', the 3rd of its kind in Ljubljana

Ljubljana’s ‘KoloPark’, the 3rd of its kind in Ljubljana

Since winning the Award, Ljubljana has been praised in international media for its sustainability and its natural beauty. Tine is proud that his home town has become known worldwide as a green city: “I often travel for work and when I do, I notice that word has spread about Ljubljana. People read about it in articles and when they find out I’m from the city, they ask you about it. I feel very proud when I’m talking to people about this great city and all the fantastic things that are happening in my home town. Then, when you return, you appreciate living there even more!