On Tuesday, April 16, within the session of the Committee for Spatial Planning, Transport, Infrastructure and Telecommunications of the National Assembly, we organised a thematic lecture on the planning for sustainable urban mobility.
The meeting was opened by Committee Chairperson Katarina Rakić, who emphasized the importance of a different approach, such as sustainable urban mobility, to solving traffic problems in cities overburdened with traffic.
Svetlana Bačanin, GIZ ORG EE coordinator for Serbia, who presented the project “Sustainable urban mobility in the countries of South-East Europe” and future activities being planned. She also pointed out that a written guide to the planning for sustainable urban mobility has been prepared, and that the role of parliamentarians is extremely important in this process. Lidija Radulović (BFPE) pointed out that this area is extremely important for building a sustainable society; and how an inter-sectoral approach is needed in order to achieve results in a more efficient and quicker way.
An expert from the Urban Institute in Ljubljana, Aljaz Plevnik followed with a lecture:
its first part was devoted to the concept of sustainable planning – this concept has existed for a long time, but the realisation has come about in the last 10 years.
“If you are planning a city for traffic and cars, you will have (only) traffic and cars. If you plan space for people, you will have people.”
He pointed out that people used to move far more in public places than it is the case today. According to the list of quality of life of cities, at the top are Zurich, Munich, Vienna, Berlin. Investors are opting to invest in cities that are better ranked. In most of them, people use public transport for movement – in Zurich 40% of movements are by public transport; In Vienna, 40% of people do not have a personal car, and the share of people cycling to work is growing.
They also talked about the development of Slovenia – this topic came with joining the EU, access to its initiatives and structural funds. Plevnik pointed out the experience of Ljutomer, a small city in south of Slovenia.
How would the citizens accept it? Mentality is no longer an argument. Political will is the most important, but then the development of consciousness.
Another positive example – a Mobility Agency – has been created in Ghent, Belgium, that uses all the revenue from parking to invest in some new forms of mobility.
Lessons learned are the following: political support is the most important. There are many obstacles – many new measures are being introduced (parking control, cycle sharing, reduction of parking places available) Yet, “old” approaches still pose a problem as many local communities continue, for instance, expanding parking lots; but, in Plevnik’s view, this will all be resolved over time.
Best solution for traffic is quality urban transportation, and reversing the trend of people moving to other modes (private cars). Walking and cycling as means of getting to places needs to be encouraged. Best cycling practices in Serbia have Novi Sad, Subotica and Pirot.
The present MPs were very interested in the topic and during the discussion already suggested that a series of such lectures should be held in other towns in Serbia, for example, Niš.
The realization of this activity is supported by the GIZ of the Open Regional Fund for South East Europe – Energy Efficiency (ORF-EE) within the project Sustainable Urban Mobility.