With an important role in North Macedonia, Struga shows up as a potential area for varied development. Although, between others issues, arises the problem of traffic in the city center and in the main accesses to it, which gets even more problematic during the summer time - when tourists arrive in town for vacation and to enjoy the Ohrid lake banks.

Given these facts it seemed urgent to think of a practical, fast and economical way to solve this situation - a bicycle network which could cross the main arteries in the city and connect the main social points.

Introduction

We were presented by the traffic problems the city had at that moment and we were invited to open a public discussion on how this problem could be addressed.

Research

A quantitative audit was made in order to get to know how the bicycle culture in a city the a such flat topography like Struga could solve these problems.

What is lacking and should be changed?

Awareness Action Day

An Action Day was organized involving the use of bicycles in all over the city to aware the inhabitants for the benefits of the use bicycles in Struga.

Streets were painted by youngsters in order to make this initiative memorable for medium term!

Design

New infrastructure road equipment was designed to guarantee the safety of the Struga riders and new bicycle lanes were planned for their implementation.

Public Discussion

A democratic initiative involving the local government and Struga inhabitants was organized in order to discuss usability, feasibility and its implementation in the near future.

It was essential, as a preliminary stage, to promote actions to encourage the bike use and to question the people about the major problems that would help to trace the cycling tracks and where to introduce bike parking spots.

How citizens usually
move around the city?

The Strugan citizens gave a significant answer on walking as the main mean of moving around the city. However it is concerning the fact that only 6% usually use the bike, although 11% gave a combination of answers. This result might lead to the fact that there are no proper conditions for biking, but if provided, the walkers could start using bikes as well for short or medium distances around the town.

Another 17% answered that they usually use cars as the main mean of transport in the small city and it will need a better infrastructure to handle the afflux of cars in tourist's season where usually many traffic jams occur.

For what reason inhabitants ride bikes?

The city of Struga is mostly situated in a flat area and provides worthy geographical conditions for bike usage. A large percentage of the citizens answered that they use the bike for recreation and as well for transportation, which makes a promising result of a better transportation system if bike paths are designed and constructed.

Another 26% of the citizens did not define their answer, which might lead to the usage of a bike with a non-regular routine or specific activity.

What do inhabitants suggest that is missing in Struga for bike riding?

When it comes to ask for suggestions of what is missing in the city for bike riding it is clear with 42% that the pavement and the paths are the main big issue, also multiple factors were appointed, as proper signalization, bike parking spots and better street lights.

Also the mentality and awareness of the drivers were reported because more attention and respect should be given to cyclists.

For those that usually use the bicycle, the sketch of their own and normal itinerary was proposed to be to traced on a map so it would be easily distinguishable the most used streets and main points of stop.

It was essential, as a preliminary stage, to promote actions to encourage the bike use and to question the people about the major problems that would help to trace the cycling tracks and where to introduce bike parking spots.

Together with the Municipality of Struga, small local initiatives and neighbors, we discussed the main issues the city is facing, concluding two main topics to work on: the mobility of the city, collapsed during weekends by the buyers coming from the villages around and during summer due the massive influx of tourists arriving to the city; and the forgotten main and only square of Struga, now converted into a parking area.

Afterwards, the Struga's First Painting Critical Mass took place. An action that gather various age groups in the city center with one main goal - the wake up call to the population in general for a growing community of bike users.

Afterwards, the Struga's First Painting Critical Mass took place. An action that gather various age groups in the city center with one main goal - the wake up call to the population in general for a growing community of bike users.

Hereupon, the pathways that most of the people use were painted by those cyclists while riding, creating a colorful pattern on the asphalt. This action was an important move to understand that the people from Struga ride their bikes and are receptive to a possible change in the city’s transportation system.

We worked to develop a guideline of actions to introduce an alternative mobility network based on the use of bicycle, today a reduced way of moving injured by the stigma caused to the association of a working class way of transportation and the dreadful physical conditions of the roads.

The strategies focused on both the social and the physical environment; defining several awareness actions and the adaptation in time of the city infrastructure regarding the growth in phases of cycle lanes and gates that offer the possibility to park the car and take a bike to ride the inner city.

We were called by Creative and Active Team to participate in a workshop to rethink the city of Struga, a small city but one of the most tourist ones of Macedonia with the big challenge of a major urban development planning that threatens the identity of the place and generates unresolved debates about how to formulate Struga’s future.

The first phase of the project as a short term plan, intends to enclose the city centre inside a ring along the main streets with educational, sport and social facilities connected by additional extensions. The river banks will be completely closed to cars access, where only pedestrians and bikes can go through, easily linking this area with the Korzo, the main square (Marshal Tito street and square respectively) and the Men’s beach.

Traffic calming measures had been designed to slow down the cars in the most dangerous areas, and some reconfigurations of the traffic were considered to improve the coexistence of the different ways of moving through the city. Furthermore, other measures were proposed as public services for guiding kids to the school by a monitor and a public Bicycle-Sharing System with a great impact for both the local citizens and the tourists.

As citizens progressively accept the bike culture, new phases would develop. In the midterm plan, the cycling network will be extended to a second ring, where the previous transversal extensions can connect it with the first ring and also to a recreational lane that will be developed along the lake.

The third phase of the project aims to develop the network on a radial growth creating interconnections with the Ohrid Airport, surrounding villages and creating cultural itineraries through points of interest outside the city.