Mujer de Costa Rica en bicicleta

The bicycle, a driving force for multilevel cooperation in Costa Rica

The project "Promotion and development of urban cycling" is a benchmark for inter-institutional work within the framework of the EUROCLIMA+ action lines.

The bicycle connects people with the public space, a place usually dominated by the private car. It invites us to explore different ways of reaching our destinations. The bicycle also connects institutions that, guided by the common goal of promoting this non-motorised transport, joins their efforts in a collaborative way. This synergy is one of the results that has characterised the EUROCLIMA+ project  “Promotion and development of urban cycling in Montes de Oca and Curridabat, Costa Rica”.

Ciclovia Montes de Oca

In 2017, the European Union programme launched a call for cities and countries to apply for funding and technical support for actions aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change and sustainable development. The cantons of Montes de Oca and Curridabat proposed a joint project: to gather information on their cycling groups and generate cycle infrastructure that connects both municipalities. To this end, they proposed to join forces to create better conditions for mobility and accessibility for their inhabitants.

Curridabat and Montes de Oca share a number of important national roads as main corridors; however, they are inefficient in consolidating well-connected territories. Hence the aspiration to implement joint actions. The profile of the project was approved in March 2018 by the EUROCLIMA+ programme. The signing of the agreement and the start of work took place at the end of 2019.

"This project has been made possible thanks to a very close collaboration between the European Union, the government of Costa Rica, the municipalities, civil society and implemented with the help of GIZ. It is proof that working together we can build a better future for the citizens of our cities, nowadays overcrowded with cars and pollution," said María Antonia Calvo, EU Ambassador for Costa Rica.

This initiative was the gateway to bring together the objectives of different local and national policies such as those related to the mobility in both cantons, the territorial planning of the Greater Metropolitan Area and the goals of reducing emissions in the transport sector of Costa Rica.

During its period of work, the project has connected not only two municipalities, but also institutions at different levels and the people involved: cyclists and civil society groups, technical and political staff of both cantons, managers of institutions such as the Centre for Environmental and Natural Resources Law (CEDARENA) and the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT), advisors and consultants of German Development Cooperation (GIZ), as well as representatives of the European Union.

"To carry out projects that change paradigms, multi-organisational, multi-institutional work is always necessary. All the coordination and willingness of the institutions involved has been a key element," said Irene Murillo, Executive Director of CEDARENA.

Mapa ciclovias Curridabat Montes de Oca

This orientation has had fruitful results for the project: participatory workshops with cyclist communities to gather information such as profile and most common routes, the production of didactic videos for users on urban cycling, the design of a cycling infrastructure proposal based on technical criteria, the start of construction works and the inauguration of the first 4 kilometres in the case of Montes de Oca.

When working in isolation, organisations may redouble their efforts despite having similar objectives.  To avoid this, one of the defining action lines of EUROCLIMA+ is the cross-sectoral, multi-level and multi-stakeholder coordination.

In this way, the project “Promotion and development of urban cycling in Montes de Oca and Curridabat, Costa Rica” connects municipal actions with Costa Rica's national climate policies - within the framework of the National Decarbonisation Plan--, integrating and strengthening the participation of civil society and developing capacities for inter-ministerial cooperation. These efforts have always had people as a priority: providing cycling infrastructure that connects and communicates one canton with the other, to offer consistent routes that encourage urban cycling.

“Working with different institutions and organisations allows for integration. We have to break the paradigm that each institution is in charge of its own area and only does its own thing,” said Marcel Soler Rubio, Mayor of Montes de Oca.

Encouraging the use of bicycles has benefits not only for the environment but also for people's physical and psychological health. Working hand in hand for the generation of infrastructure has major benefits for transport, health, environment, among others. Urban cycling allows people to experience their streets and cities in a way that prioritises togetherness, coexistence, and recreation.

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