Futurespotters Video Interview: Elene Margvelashvili from Iare Pekhit in Tbilisi, Georgia


Hi all, I’m new and it’s my first post…so…hope to be quite precise!

If I’ve understood correctly, you are facing different issues and one of your problem is due to the lack of “quick” effects you need to sensitize citizen and also moneys.

In my job when i need to send a concept it’s necessary to “hit inside”  the receiving.

Sometimes in italy, I’ve met the BIKEMOBers…people meet in a specific place and occupy street with bikes. These is not meaning you must block cars, but if you see 200 bikes moving together is really amazing. Maybe you can organize something similar for pedestrians?

Good luck!!!


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Critical Mass

Hi @Semola! There have been several Critical Masses in Tbilisi so far (this is one of them), but it’s hard to collect an actual critical mass, a group large enough to be noticed. Unless you are a religious fanatic. That being said, it is def something worth considering, what do you think @Elene Margvelashvili & @ellenem?

Critical Mass

Throughout our work I have realized that it is really hard to bring together a large enough group of people unless there is some incentive or as Inge said, unless it has to do with religion. People tend to be more active when it comes to aggressive protest, such as putting notes or stickers on cars which are poorly parked, but I think starting something like Stopham in Russia, is going to create more aggression and more conflict between the two different social groups of pedestrians and drivers. We are trying to find a sarcastic way to make the big jeep drivers look ridiculous in the tiny streets of Tbilisi, but that again is a whole new project. We were also thinking about a pedestrian marathon last year, but first we need to work on letting pedestrians know that they are a group with certain rights to make them come out and walk or run for those rights! Thanks for the idea though, we will definitely consider it in our planning.

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Critical Mass takes time

I used to live in Milano, and Critical Mass really took off there. But it took time: and not months, but years. A lot of the work needed to, like you say, “letting pedestrians know they are a group” is simply to show up, keep at it, not get discouraged and not let go. In Milano, week in week out, the Critical Mass people showed up, and it was not until about 2008 that a real bike culture started to become cutting edge in town. 

I know, it’s hard.


Milano - Tbilisi

Dear Alberto, I completely agree with what you are saying here, but in Georgia you really need to spend time on educating people and raising awareness. I’m sure people in Milano, did not have as many day to day problems and all the really tough social issues to deal with, which a regular Georgian pedestrian has today. To afford to respond to these issues, is a long call for Georgian people, people who have no jobs, have sick kids with no medication, have relatives in jail and etc. I would like to ask everyone in this discussion to post any funding opportunities that they know of, we finally can spend time on writing up new project proposals and have tons of ideas, but unfortunately have missed a lot of deadlines for grant submissions in Georgia at the moment.

Thank you once again for your input!


hi Elene,

you’re doing a great job :slight_smile: I work for the City of Milan (I’m in charge for Social Media communication along with another person, Alessio Baù). In Milan, we’ve been discussing these subjects for years, and we had (well, to some smaller extent we’re still having :)) the same problems you describe. Changing local laws can be a rather quick process, changing the culture and opening people’s minds may take much longer… Milan is trying to implement some new mobilty & sustainability policies. If you feel like it could be useful for you to compare notes with me and Alessio, just contact us (I’m sending you our contact info in a private message), we’d be very happy to help.

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Thanks for this generous offer!

On behalf of the community, thank you @Paola Bonini and @alessiobau, this is a truly generous offer. @Elene Margvelashvili seems to be on the lookout for input, and you guys in Milano have done a truly marvellous job. We all have much to learn from that.

Of course, each situation is different from any other. My feeling (I have lived in Milano for ten years, just before the AreaC operation started, so I do have a feeling for it) is that the culture was already changing, and the City Hall wisely added its weight to the push for change. Nadia and I went to buy bikes in 2009 at Decathlon in Castello, and the shop assistant told as they were selling about 100 bicycles per day, in that shop alone. We were surprised: where were all these bicycles? You could not see them in the city! And yet, a change was afoot. The City Hall policies to make Milano slightly more bike-friendly found a segment of the population ready to run with them. From what Elene says, Tbilisi is not quite in the same position yet. 

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Thanks so much @Paola Bonini and @alessiobau for your offer! As @Alberto said, the situation is quite different between Tbilisi and Milaan, starting point. However, I am sure that any help, ideas, input will be of great value to @Elene Margvelashvili and @ellenem!

1 city planner, 1 architect contact, (+ city cycling Ph.D. FOAF)

in Vienna. @Elene_Margvelashvili They recently did some pretty big pro pedestrian steps recently that met with resistance initially but were celebrated once they were done. The city planer was also involved in this art project http://www.wien.gv.at/stadtentwicklung/energieplanung/pdf/low-tech.pdf

His wife currently does a Ph.D. dealing with cycling in the city, if I remember correctly. I think it will produce relatively hard data (they do experminents with go-pros and lots of data logging I think)


very cool!

def interesting! Iare Pehit is right now in the process of revealing winners of a public art contest, and the new website is online beginning of June. The idea is to have amembership based organization that pushes for changes member driven. There’ll be several public ‘lectures’, meetings with officials, and possibilities to initiate actions. All facilitated through the new online developed forum (but mostly in Georgian of course). It’ll be interesting to look at Vienna’s case for the public lectures I think!

Right, let me know

When the time is right. Perhaps you can give me a link or two that best illustrates your project to a youngish public employee, and he may show his colleagues or boss…

Last time we spoke they said they were looking for more public input - but also some that is at least a little qualified. I’d say your place should be very happy to have you!

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