After Zagreb, Rijeka and Varaždin, the fourth CIVINET Forum was held on June 14th, 2019 in Kranj, Slovenia, under the theme “Involving citizens to change traffic habits”. The organizers were the Municipality of Kranj and the network CIVINET Slovenia-Croatia-SEE, whose Secretariat is ODRAZ. The Forum presents examples of citizen involvement in the spatial-traffic planning process from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

Forty of those present participants – from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Northern Macedonia – were welcomed by the Mayor of the City of Kranj Matjaž Rakovec, who pointed out that the biggest challenge for Kranj is to build as many bicycle paths as possible to connect the city with the surrounding area and Bled. Together with the neighboring municipalities, the entire Gorenjska region is planned to be connected with the construction of trails, the introduction of electric bicycles and systematically work to change people’s traffic habits.

The participants were also contacted by the coordinator of the network Srđan Škunac from the City of Rijeka and Andrej Zalokar from the Rekreatur Kranj Society, who participated in the organization of the Forum.

Luka Mladenović from the Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia presented Slovenia’s plans in the field of sustainable urban mobility. In the process of drafting the SUMPs launched by the EU, they have been included since 2004, and 77 of the 217 municipalities in Slovenia currently have their SUMP. One of the next steps in the National Program for Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans for the period 2018-2020 is the development of thematic guidelines in which the involvement of citizens in the process of developing SUMPs will certainly have an important place.

Valentina Basarić and Vuk Bogdanović from the Faculty of Technical Sciences from Novi Sad, presented the Smart Traffic Development Plan in Novi Sad, a project where a large number of traffic experts worked for the last two to three years. Novi Sad is one of the few cities that has a tradition of developing transport studies since the 1960s and in 2009 there was a traffic study of NOSTRA in which a number of measures were proposed. Some time ago, Novi Sad was the leading city in the transport of passengers by public transportation, and today the price of parking in Novi Sad is cheaper than the price of public transportation and the share of passengers using public transport is smaller than ever before.

As part of the project, citizens were included throughout the survey. During October 2017, a total of 1,602 households were surveyed, and 3,855 individual travel questionnaires were filled. Data are collected by traffic zones and grouped by traffic districts and settlements.

Basarić talked about habits and ways of traveling, for example, cyclists. She believes that a large number of cyclists in Novi Sad are linked to the level of education – for example, experts working in the IT sector are usually those who come to work by bicycle. After changing the public transport tariff rate, prices have become popular and users now have cheaper transportation. Parking cost is one of the main mechanisms that will affect other subsystems. When the ratio of motorized-non-motorized is 50-50%, the only exit is the public transportation system.

Celostna prometna strategija ljubljanske urbane regije (SUMP LUR) is the title of the presentation by Klemen Gostič from the Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region who presented the concept of SUMP in which production was directly and indirectly included over 500,000 inhabitants of the Ljubljana Urban Region, 26 mayors numerous cities, municipal departments and key regional and national stakeholders. In addition to the individual interviews with all the mayors (a total of 26 interviews), workshops were held with the representatives of the municipalities of the Ljubljana urban region for mobility and spatial planning, as well as with national and regional experts, an online survey was conducted for 1.614 responses and five public workshops with citizens on the main traffic corridors were held. Based on all these discussions, an action plan of the main measures and objectives of the SUMP of the Ljubljana Urban Region was prepared.

Changing traffic habits of the citizen A is the name of the interesting presentation by Andrej Zalokar from the Association REKREATUR from Kranj, who showed on his own example of how an individual can work on changing traffic habits and what impact it has on the environment and ecological footprint, but also on the budget.

The last presentation was held by Vladimir Halgota from the Zagreb Association “Bicycle union”, who talked about youth education and inclusion in spatial design on the example of cooperation of the Bicycle union with the School for Road Traffic within the student program “Citizen Project”, whose goal was the planning of city traffic in a sustainable way, meets people’s needs. An example of an initiative to increase the number of bicycle parking bikes at Zagrebtower describes the long and ultimately unsuccessful communication between the proposer and the Zagreb city administration about the approval of the use of a public green area where additional bicycle racks could be installed.

In the second part of the Forum, a panel discussion was held with the participation of Janez Koželj, deputy mayor of Ljubljana, Tihomir Dakić from the Center for Environment Banja Luka, Valentina Basarić from the Faculty of Technical Sciences Novi Sad, Marko Stančec from ODRAZ and Andrej Zalokar from the REKREATUR Society Kranj. The moderator was Srđan Škunac from the City of Rijeka.

Some notes from the debate:

  • In general, in the field of CIVINET network activities, there is no developed culture of public involvement in traffic planning processes
  • Citizens need to develop responsibility and awareness of the need for inclusion (they generally feel that their opinion will not be respected) and teach them how to run the process
  • It is necessary to work on changing the attitudes of local government, which still has a patronizing attitude; “We are here for you, we know all” – this is often the attitude of the government towards citizens, which needs to change in order to respect the needs and wishes of citizens
  • Public relations should be built and the best co-operation is carried out in cooperation with associations
  • Work should also be done on changes in attitudes of experts in order to turn from a purely engineering approach to planning to new ways aimed at improving the quality of life and inclusion of citizens
  • It is necessary to work on better involvement of citizens in the decision-making process and on campaigns for changes in traffic habits, which should be some of the most important “soft” measures
  • It is important not only to educate citizens, but also politicians, employees of local governments and experts in order to involve citizens.

“When something is taken from citizens, they need something to offer them in return” – is the message from prof. Janez Koželj, deputy mayor of Ljubljana.

Participants of the Forum organized a short tour through the city where the price of public transport is 1 EUR for the whole day. In the city, there is a system of public bicycles KRsKolesom – electric and ordinary and a system of joint driving with electric cars. The participants had the opportunity to ride an electric bus called Kranvaj which is specific in that it operates in a flexible schedule, and the time and timetable are shaped according to the needs of the passengers. Kranvaj represents a form of sustainable urban transport that runs freely in the center of the city closed for motorized traffic. Also, they had the opportunity to ride e-rickshaws and try electric bikes. E-rickshaw purchased within the INTERREG Danube International Project LENA are the first such acquisition in the Gorenjska region and the first e-rickshaw in Slovenia, which is used for tourist purposes.

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