Ukrainians were developing their country, particularly a cycling culture, while Russia initiated a full-scale war in February. Civilians’ everyday life has changed significantly. Some lost homes or cars, while others were left without their dearest people. Nevertheless, Ukrainians are continuing to live their lives, and rebuilding their cities and villages. They build their resilience to struggle and continue to enjoy what brings them joy, including cycling. During the war, a bicycle can also be a crucial vehicle for mobility.
Three photographers from the Ukraїner team captured invincible Ukrainians from the de-occupied territories of Sivershchyna and Kyivan Polissia. These people continue living in their cities and villages, and reconstructing them. Bicycles appear as a recurring theme in this photo digest, which aims to highlight that Ukrainians are always able to find a way to persist, even when their homes are invaded by the enemy.
Today, it can be difficult to recognise settlements that have been under Russian occupation or targets of enemy’s shellings and bombardment, because Ukrainians are actively reconstructing them. Citizens are intended to get back to their normal life rhythm. Regardless of all the troubles, they are cleaning up the streets, fixing the buildings and continuing doing things that they are good at.
Photographer, photojournalist, documentary photographer, joined Ukraїner in 2019
“Due to the lack of fuel, bicycles became the only available transport in the liberated cities and villages. No matter if they are old, creaking or rusty, they can help to get to another part of the city or village, deliver the humanitarian aid packages, visit relatives, and manage to come back before the curfew.”
Reporting and documentary photographer, joined Ukraїner in 2018
“In the shots from the liberated communities one can see a lot of locals riding by bikes. I appreciate that, as for me a bicycle has always been an embodiment of freedom. So I consider people from the liberated from Russian occupied territories on bikes in this way.”
Media producer, photographer, joined Ukraїner in 2020
“As for me, being a Kyiv citizen, I always wondered about the popularity of such simple bicycles like “Ukraine” (a well-known bicycle brand from Kharkiv – ed.). It can be considered a national transport because it is used by all categories of people – from first graders to seniors. The war only increased the bike’s popularity as people faced fuel crises, troubles with public transport and, finally, the necessity of survival for those who didn’t evacuate from hazardous places. So for me, this vision no longer symbolises a lovely province but indicates the humanitarian problems.”