Mayors of Western Balkan capitals – ambassadors of sustainable urban mobility in the region
The mayors of capital cities in the Western Balkans supported and took part in the European Mobility Week, from September 16 to 22.
This year, 104 cities, municipalities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), businesses, and schools from the Western Balkan region are registered to have taken part in the implementation of temporary or permanent urban mobility measures. By increasing the share of walking and cycling as part of integrated everyday exercise, these measures have positive effects on our health, our environment, and our finances. Active modes of transportation do not emit harmful gases, protecting the cardiovascular system and keeping the body healthier.
Cities that promote walking and cycling over the use of private motor vehicles have turned out to be more attractive, with less traffic congestion and a higher quality of life.
104 cities, municipalities, NGOs, businesses, and schools from the Western Balkan region are registered to have taken part in the implementation of urban mobility measures
GIZ Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Energy Efficiency (ORF-EE), as part of the Sustainable Urban Mobility in the South-East European Countries II (SUMSEEC II) project, has supported the Western Balkan capitals (Belgrade, Sarajevo, Podgorica, Priština, Skopje, Tirana) in implementing the European Mobility Week measures, as well as the municipalities of Librazhd, Belsh, Cerrik, Shkodra (Albania), Banja Luka, Bijeljina, Zavidovići, Čapljina (BiH), Pljevlja, Rožaje (Montenegro), Bitola, Veles (North Macedonia), Pirot, Šabac, Bajina Bašta, Kruševac (Serbia), Gnjilane, Ferizaj, Gračanica and Podujevo (Kosovo).
Besides numerous promotional activities in all countries, some activities were organized for MP’s or councillors. An important event, held in Podgorica, Montenegro, was the Panel Discussion on Sustainable Urban Mobility for deputies of the national Parliament, aldermen of the local Assembly, and members of Women’s Political Network – in collaboration with the School of Political Studies, the Civic Alliance, and GIZ. The panel was moderated by Slovenian expert Aljaž Plevnik.
During the European Mobility Week, an online conference of mayors was held to exchange experiences
In Skopje, North Macedonia, a presentation of the White Paper on sustainable urban mobility was held in the presence of MPs from Montenegro and Serbia. They also took part in the event, organized by the City of Skopje together with the mayor.
During the European Mobility Week, an online conference of mayors (attended by mayors or their designated substitutes) was held to exchange experiences where mayors had a focus on the following areas:
BELGRADE: The expansion of pedestrian zones and its impact on the pedestrian movement in the city center
“We are actively working on projects aimed at resolving traffic problems and improving the quality of life of citizens. Our goal is to enable Belgraders and visitors to move around our city faster and easier. We have expanded pedestrian zones in the city center, introduced electric-powered vehicles (referred to as Sparrows) as an efficient and environmentally friendly means of public transportation and, in late August, invited bids for the deployment of a public bicycle system. Over the coming period, we will continue to expand the pedestrian zones, develop cycling lanes, and turn to alternative modes of transportation, as opposed to motorized transportation.” – Zoran Radojičić, mayor of Belgrade.
PODGORICA: The importance of collaborating with different actors on urban mobility and European Mobility Week
“For the first time, we have truly systemically undertaken an analysis of the state of traffic in the capital city in order to understand the problems and ways to make improvements in this area. The issue of traffic it is not something that concerns the capital city only, but all of us individually. A sedentary lifestyle and the use of automobiles, unfortunately, cause damage not only to the environment but also to our quality of life and our health. We can talk about a series of grave diagnoses and health conditions linked to such a way of life. This is why our idea is to promote the use of alternative modes of transportation, and the slogan of this year’s campaign is ‘Walk with us!” – Slađana Vujačić, deputy mayor of Podgorica.
PRIŠTINA – The importance of building infrastructure for non-motorized traffic to change citizens’ habits
“In the car-free day, there are so many citizens joining us in using fewer vehicles for a cleaner environment, by walking and cycling. We will be the model for the future generation! This is the minimum we can do for our planet, Earth!” – Shpend Amheti, mayor of Priština.
SKOPJE – Experiences in applying for European Mobility Week awards and good practice examples
“There is still a lot of work ahead and we are still working on changing people’s habits. We continue to work on the development of the cycling infrastructure and the network of sidewalks and pedestrian zones. We continue to encourage the use of bicycles as a mode of transportation in every possible way, in order to provide sustainable urban mobility and a better environment for Skopje’s residents.” – Petre Šilegov, mayor of Skopje (first from the right).
TIRANA – Car-free zones and non-motorized traffic
In a post on Twitter, Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj said that Albania’s capital is preparing for a car-free day full of activities for children and families following Saturday’s earthquake. “While relief efforts continue, we will carry on living, helping and loving in the true spirit of this city,” tweeted Veliaj.
SARAJEVO – People, not automobiles, must come first
“The City of Sarajevo wants to use European Mobility Week as an incentive to speed up achieving the goals that will, as soon as possible, define our city as a smart city. The city is grateful to individuals, enthusiasts and organizations who were the first to join in and initiate this campaign. Sarajevo is the capital of a country that seeks to become an EU member, which means an even greater obligation to provide its citizens with the standards and quality of life that exist in European cities. When I say this, I mean the fact that Sarajevo is the most polluted capital in Europe. We must change that, and we must change the habits of our fellow citizens. To achieve this, we must create conditions for change, institutionally. For us, people must come first, not automobiles. We have to invest more into the pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, we must create “smart urban transport…” This is the way for Sarajevo to become a smart city.” Milan Trivić, deputy mayor of Sarajevo.” Milan Trivić, deputy mayor of Sarajevo.
SARAJEVO – A vision of transportation development for Sarajevo Canton with a focus on the urban city area
“Sarajevo’s pollution index last winter was 393, which is extremely dangerous. The problem requires a strategic solution and we have initiated building heating projects that will reduce energy use. We are also procuring state-of-the-art equipment for measuring air pollution that will be operated by the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Sarajevo. During the days of the highest pollution that are expected in a few months, streets will be washed with a special solution that mitigates the impact of pollution. It is estimated that this could reduce particles in winter months by up to 30%. We are certainly also working on concrete measures regarding urban transportation.” – Edin Forto, prime minister of Sarajevo Canton.
The conclusion from the online conference:
According to their statements, the mayors – SUMP Ambassadors are generally committed to influencing change in citizens’ mobility habits through urban mobility planning and in cooperation with all stakeholders, in order to minimize the use of motor vehicles as a mode of transportation. Moreover, the presentations of their plans and activities indicate that representatives of all cities are determined to adapt urban areas to non-motorized transportation as much as possible. Recognizing the efforts of Western Balkan cities in the field of urban mobility would be of great significance for further efforts and an incentive for all relevant people involved in the development of urban mobility.
Also, all cities and municipalities can apply for the European Commission’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) Award, which is this year complementary to the theme of the European Mobility Week and focuses on safe walking and cycling. This year’s SUMP Award, whose motto is “Walk with us!” focuses on the integration of safe active mobility in sustainable urban mobility planning, covering the development and promotion of walking and cycling as urban transportation modes and the improvement of safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The call for applications is open until October 31, 2019 (24:00 CET).
More info: http://www.mobilityweek.eu/sump-award
Application form: http://sump-award.mobilityweek.eu/