“Patience, persistence, and self-confidence… You can never please everyone, so you must try and find the best solution for a majority. Work for the benefit of citizens, but do it together with them.” These are the key messages from Vladimir Babić, an expert from Slovenia, who has recently held a seminar on developing sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMPs) for representatives of the cities of Pirot and Šabac and the municipality of Bajina Bašta, Serbia, as part of the GIZ Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Energy Efficiency (ORF-EE) financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The seminar, which at the same time marked the launch of the two Serbian cities’ work on preparing their SUMPs, was held at Lake Srebrno jezero jointly organized by GIZ ORF-EE and the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SKGO).
The seminar was attended by members of municipal working groups for the preparation of SUMPs from pilot cities Pirot and Šabac, as well as the Bajina Bašta municipality, which has also shown keen interest in a new approach to urban mobility planning. The pilot cities were selected based on meeting the criteria for launching the preparation of a SUMP, the existence of strategic documents, analyses, and relevant infrastructure, as well as readiness and capacity for cooperation.
At the beginning of the two-day seminar, Milenka Knežević, an advisor on the GIZ ORF-EE, gave an overview of regional cooperation in this field and announced further steps at the regional level, which include cooperation and the exchange of experiences between cities and countries in the region supported by the project.
The preparation of such a plan focuses on the improving the quality of life of people in cities
Ljubinka Kaluđerović, secretary of the SKGO’s environment and emergencies committee, talked about the role of the SKGO, which has an agreement in place with the GIZ ORF-EE aimed at supporting municipalities in the field of urban mobility.
Also at the seminar, general principles of planning sustainable urban mobility were presented, along with EU policies, steps in preparing a SUMP, the ELTIS methodology, and the European Mobility Week, as well as numerous examples of implementing SUMPs in other cities, including Ljubljana, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, and York.
Participants in the seminar also conducted preliminary analyses of the current situation in their municipalities, which represented the beginning of their work on preparing SUMPs.
Ljubljana as an example
Vladimir Babić, who has dealt with urban mobility for many years, is also an expert of the CIVINET group of city networks. He explained how the Slovenian capital had made its journey from a “green vision” to international recognitions, such as the European Green Capital.
Here are some of the results of sustainable mobility measures in Ljubljana:
- Pedestrian-only zone expanded by 660% by closing off the city center for all motor vehicles (130,000 m2)
- 6 “Kavalir” electric vehicles transport citizens free of charge in city center/pedestrian zone
- Bike-sharing service Bicike(LJ) – more than 6.1 million rides since May 2011
- Better public transport – 19% more users of city buses since 2010, 34% more rides on regional buses since 2013
- Revitalization of degraded areas – over 100 hectares of new green spaces (parks, recreation zones, floral spaces, playgrounds, open-air gyms).
Apart from experts from Slovenia, local experts from Kruševac and Valjevo talked about their own experiences. They will be in charge of supporting the pilot cities in the preparation of SUMPs.
Svetlana Bačanin, coordinator for Serbia of the GIZ ORF-EE, said that the preparation of such a plan focuses on the European model – improving the quality of life of people in cities.
“Reducing the number of automobiles and expanding the space for other forms of mobility, such as walking or cycling, coupled with an improved public transport will facilitate mobility, reduce noise and pollution, and help our cities contribute to the fight against climate change,” she said.
Apart from Pirot and Šabac, GIZ ORF-EE is directly cooperating with the City of Belgrade during the process of SUMP development. The city’s transportation secretariat has earmarked funds for the preparation of this document and began working on it in March.
The preparation of the SUMP is envisaged to last a year, with additional expert support from GIZ ORF-EE. The City of Belgrade has started engaging the public in the preparation of the plan by organizing public debates and announcing a survey of Belgrade residents’ mobility.
The GIZ ORF-EE will also support the implementation of one demonstration project related to SUMPs for Belgrade and Kruševac.