My family and I traveled to Bulgaria recently. I will be publishing additional piece on our experience in the Pirin mountain separately later over the weekend, but in the mean time wanted to share my views on cycling in the capital – Sofia as this is something that has been bothering me for several years.
Bulgaria is a member of the EU. Having said that, your visions of a glitzy European capital, with posh boutique stores etc. is…well, misplaced. The country and its capital is still very much in a stage of development, and the standard of living is not high at all. Here are some stats on the country’s economic indicators and recent assessment.
That economic picture is then combined with some additional factors – like price of gasoline and/or diesel fuel, and you have a situation that should drive huge demand for bicycle usage.
Well, not so fast! While the incomes and disposable funds across the population of the country and/or Sofia is not high, the usage of bicycles is abysmally low.
From the moment you get out of the airport and get on a taxi, metro, bus….you are thrown in the mess of cars and especially in rush hour – you start wondering – how come?
Given that congestion and overall general aggressiveness of drivers, I would strongly discourage you take on biking in the city. At the same time, I wish there was a way to start a petition across the people living in the city – to drive the usage of bikes much higher….
I have been in many European cities and in most of them you see tons of bicycle usage and as a result incredible number of benefits – including MUCH safer streets from standpoint of overall pedestrian, bicycle, and overall traffic.
Let me know with your feedback and recommendations on how to address this big issue for this small country…!