„To work by bicycle, on foot, or at a leisurely pace“ is the motto of the May Challenge, organized by the AutoMat association, which has been motivating residents of cities to travel by their own power for the duration of one month for 13 years. Over 25,600 people from 2,500 companies and 52 organizing cities participated in this year’s event. Together, they saved emissions and space on the roads.
As part of the May Challenge, a total of 25,625 people commuted sustainably to and from work (and not only work) this year. They collectively traveled almost 5,700,000 kilometers, saving 739 tons of CO2 emissions (compared to the same distance traveled by car). The ratio of cycling trips to walking trips was more balanced this year than in the past. Participants recorded 388,000 cycling trips and over 308,000 walking trips. In addition to Prague, 51 other cities across the country participated in the event. In some of these cities (such as Prague, Třebíč, Ústí nad Labem), pedestrians constituted the majority, while in others, those who chose bicycles for transportation dominated significantly (Pardubice, České Budějovice, Otrokovice).
„The participants improve their physical and mental well-being and draw attention to the need for infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. The anonymized data about their routes can then help cities in their planning,“ says Dominika Lenthárová, the campaign leader from AutoMat.
This year, the organizing association AutoMat also launched the „Do školy na kole“ (To School by Bike) challenge, which was embraced by 29 primary schools, secondary schools, and universities. One of them is Vela School in Prague: „Today, when I came to school, the bicycle racks were completely full. And we added one more rack because of the challenge. We are a small school with 100 students, and about twenty of them participated in the challenge, which means every fifth student throughout the entire school,“ reported teacher Barbora Kverková at the beginning of May. Lenka Ocásková from Masaryk Gymnasium in Příbor added, „We also organized a shared breakfast. The most common phrase we heard was: ‚Every school day could start like this.‘ It will depend on the change in the transportation habits of students what the future of our cities will look like.„
The only competion of the May Challenge is the regularity of teams consisting of 2 to 5 members. „The challenge is not about the number of kilometers but about changing our everyday routines. That’s why we include all teams that achieve a regularity rate of 66% or higher in the final prize draw, regardless of the distance traveled,“ explains Dominika Lenthárová. The majority of participants continue sustainable urban travel even after the challenge ends, at least for the remainder of the season. The May Challenge is followed by the two-week September Challenge (organized as part of the European Mobility Week) and the one-week January Challenge.
The May Challenge proudly included 2,506 companies that care about a sustainable future. This year, both small and large organizations, including Komerční banka, embraced the May Challenge. „An incredible 392 employees from across the country participated this year, which is a record number. Our ambition is to collectively surpass the milestone of 100,000 kilometers traveled. Personally, I also participated and tried to commute to work by bike several times a week, encouraging each other with colleagues,“ enthused Jan Juchelka, the CEO of Komerční banka, during May.
Other organizations with significant participation included the General University Hospital in Prague (278), Continental Barum (273), Československá obchodní banka (416), Avast (127), the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Czech Television, Thermo Fisher Scientific, the National Bank of Czechia, the Road and Motorway Directorate, the Ministry of Transport, ROPID, and ÚJV Řež. Czech companies increasingly consider the payment of the participation fee for the starter pack as one of the corporate benefits, with nearly 3/4 of participants having their employers cover the entry fee.
„A wonderfully motivating event that has won us over again. Every day in the office, there were discussions about how many kilometers each person cycled or walked, and the rivalry between two internal teams peaked in the last three days. I must admit that changing the mode of transportation to the office and doing something for oneself and the surrounding environment is truly refreshing!“ said Michal Holzknecht from Welcome to the Jungle CZ/SK.