Country, Date of election
Czech Republic 2011
Martin Kontra is transforming public space from commercialized and fragmented to community-focused, environmentally friendly, and integrated. By creating a support network of community spaces, engaged citizens, and leadership, Martin inspires collective idea exchange and action.
Modern cities channel hundreds of millions of people on earth toward affluence, which their parents could only dream of, but the chance to experience a luxury “urban dream” also has its reverse side. Streets of large urban areas are thronged with noisy traffic; the situation is geared towards the interests of developers and the needs of people who live in them are, in many ways, overlooked. There is little contact and a friendly and open street is still a relatively rare commodity. Without personal contacts, smiles, and smells, life in the city seems to be pointless.
Bajkazyl runs 3 service centres in Prague and one in Olomouc. Preparations began in 2014 for the opening of other centres in Brno and České Budějovice . The Bajakazyl team has repaired and produced hundreds of unique recycled and adapted bikes for urban traffic. The organization also lends recycled bikes and organizes cycling excursions to the neglected parts of Prague, in which hundreds of people take part every year. Their activities have inspired hundreds of city dwellers to a more active use of bicycles while the city has improved the infrastructure for cyclists. Through dozens of cultural events (concerts, exhibitions, films, dance halls, shared rides), Bajkazyl creates barrier-free space so that tens of thousands of people from various social groups (trendy young people, mothers with children, senior citizens) can meet and bring their neighbours for thousands of Prague residents, as well as promoting domestic and foreign culture and a different perspective on the city.
The bicycle is a medium for mobility. Coffee is a medium for communication. Culture is a medium for society. The goal of Bajkazyl is to reunite all the things the city’s residents like in one place. The Bajkazyl Team loves streets and the people who live there. They long for adventure and hate barriers. Bajkazyl repairs, recycles and rents bikes and knows almost everything about them. They advise interested people where to ride. They organize night rides, races, flea markets, dance or film evenings, concerts and exhibitions. In other words, they do everything so that all those who would normally pass each other in the city streets can meet and get to know each other.
The creation of a social, cultural and communication platform and space for meetings and communication among those who normally pass each other by in the city including topics, culture, promotion of local products and services and the possibility of developing other joint activities in the urban infrastructure. Help for each individual with the revelation of his/her own potential, to achieve at least small changes in his/her community through the promotion of cycling, environmentally friendly behaviour, recycling and supporting local producers and more active communication with one’s neighbours.
Martin has lived in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe for 30 years. He travels a lot and watches how they do it elsewhere. He knows that the quality of life is determined by transport and the ease with which neighbours may encounter each other in the street. He is a passionate cyclist and knows that bikes as a model of transport can turn a boring town into an emotionally-charged landscape. He is a journalist and he used to write about “Why is not it better?”. Finally he transformed words and thoughts into action. He founded Bajkazyl and through this organization he brought a lot of what he and people around him had been missing for a long time to the city.