On 15 July 2005, the International Moving Environmental Conference finished in Helsinki. The bicycle campaign was organised by environmental NGOs from Russia - Centre for Environmental Initiatives and Friends of the Baltic, Finland - Dodo-the Living Nature for the Future, and Estonia - Estonian Green Movement. The main goal of the campaign was promotion of sustainable transport solutions and public participation in municipal planning.
Environmental activists started on 25 June in Helsinki, went by bikes along the North coast of the Gulf of Finland to St.Petersburg, continued their way along the South coast further to Tallinn, and closed the ring around the Gulf in Helsinki. During 21 days the campaign participants made over 1130 km. This was the second time when environmental activists made such a circle around the Gulf of Finland. Last summer many of them made the way along the route St.Petersburg - Tallinn - Helsinki - St.Petersburg.
The campaign was supported by Pekka Haavisto, the speaker of European Greens and former Minister of Environment of Finland, and Mikhail Amosov, the Chairman of the Commission on City Planning of the St.Petersburg Legislative Assembly, the head of the Yabloko faction at the St.Petersburg Legislative Assembly.
Along the entire route - in Helsinki, Isnas, Kotka, Hamina, Vyborg, Primorsk, St.Petersburg, Petrodvorets, Lomonosov, Koporye, Narva, Sillamae, Vihasoe, Kolga, Tallinn, and again in Helsinki - the campaign participants met local activists, representatives of mass media, and local residents. The meetings participants shared their experience in solving transport-related environmental problems and experience in public participation in decision-making.
On 4 July, with the frames of the International Moving Environmental Conference, the Round Table on Sustainable Transport Solutions was held at the Consulate General of Finland in St.Petersburg. The speakers at the Round Table, the Consul Gene…al of Finland in St.Petersburg Mr. Juhani Vaananen, the speaker of European Greens Mr. Pekka Haavisto, the rector of the Russian State Hydrometeorological University Prof. Lev Karlin, Russian and Finnish experts in city planning and NGO activists shared information and experience on reducing negative environmental impact from transport.
One of the important campaign goals was promotion of bicycle as environmentally friendly transport, and of bicycle tourism. The campaign participants went along the bike route Helsinki - St.Petersburg - Tallinn, which is an important part of EuroVelo plans. However, the route is not completed yet, especially in Russia. Finland has a lot of bicycle paths both in settlements and between them. And in Estonia the bicycle route from Narva to Tallinn is marked with special signs. Thus, it is important to develop similar infrastructure in St.Petersburg and Leningrad region.
This is indeed the demand from the people. The results of the poll performed by the Centre for Environmental Initiatives show that there are more bicycles in St.Petersburg than cars. Three of each four poll respondents were in favour of building bike paths in St.Petersburg.
The bicycle campaign has shown the necessity and opportunities for uniting efforts of the public and all other actors to provide the balance between economic development and interests of those who live on the coasts of the Gulf, to protect the nature of the Baltic Region, to use all national and international mechanisms for actual public participation in decision-making.