The meeting was held on November 20, at Polotsk District Executive Committee. The event was dedicated to the development of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan. Thanks to this document, the Polotsk public transport should become more effective, whereas the number of traffic jams should decrease. The city's pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure will also improve.
The work on a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan for Polotsk commenced in spring 2014. The document will become a long-term strategy to resolve transportation problems in the city. For instance, today, more than 320 cars registered per 1000 Polotsk citizens. In 2004, this figure was less than 160. A Mobility Plan will set a framework for creating new roads, road junctions, new public transportation routes and bicycle lanes.
Representatives of the Working Group, Public Working Group on urban mobility issues, and experts from the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning (BelNIIPgradostroitelsva) and the Belarusian Association of Transport Experts and Surveyors attended the meeting on November 20. Earlier this year, in September, these two organizations had won a competition to develop a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan.
The Working Group coordinates and controls the development of a Mobility Plan. It comprises representatives of the State Automobile Inspectorate, Polotsk Housing and Utilities Enterprises, City Bus Depot №2, and Polotsk Capital Construction Board.
In order to reflect interests of cyclists, car drivers and pedestrians who move around Polotsk every day, the Public Working Group on urban mobility issues was established. Anyone who wants to make Polotsk a more comfortable place to live in can join the Group. The first meeting of the Group was held on July 7, 2014.
The Group already have members from several non-state organizations: Belaruian Republican Youth Union (BRSM), Ecodom (lit.: Ecological House), Komitet Obschestvennogo Samoupravleniya (lit.: Committee on Public Self-Governance), Belorusskoe Obschestvo Invalidov (lit.: Belarusian Association of the Disabled). Local businesses also paid attention to the project: e.g bicycle shops Drive from Polotsk and Velo-Garazh from Novopolotsk. The biggest Polotsk radio station Evropa Plus also has its representatives in the Public Working Group. In June, this year, the radio station organized a massive city bicycle ride in Polotsk. Moreover, the Group has a representative of the Polotsk District Center For Children and Youth.
A TV report about the meeting in Polotsk on Summit+TV Channel (in Russian)
Experts from the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning (BelNIIPgradostroitelsva) and the Belarusian Association of Transport Experts and Surveyors presented their approaches to solving transportation issues as well as their experience in dealing with such issues in Belarus and abroad. It is worth noting that the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning had already started researching the current mobility situation in Polotsk. The first results will be outlined in 2015.
“In October, we were studying car flows in Polotsk streets and passenger flows within the public transportation system, we were analyzing road accidents as well as trends in the number of cars possessed by Polotsk residents. Hope these important data will help to combine efforts in order to come up with an effective strategy developing the city’s transportation infrastructure,” noted Anna Lutskovich, Head of the Transportation Systems Department at the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning.
At the end of the meeting, several suggestions for the experts working on a Mobility Plan were introduced. In particular, the participants of the meeting were deliberating over a unified system for renting bicycles in Polotsk and Novopolotsk, public winter storages for bicycles, the optimization of the current timetables of Polotsk taxi buses and their publication on the internet.
A Mobility Plan should be finalized by the end of 2016. Its key points will be included in the Polotsk General City Plan. The budget of the project is 334 000 euro, 90% of this sum are provided by the European Union. Interakcia Foundation and Polotsk District Executive Committee act as partners in the project (Interakcia is the lead partner in the project).