From Energy Efficiency to Urban Mobility: Introducing Participatory Approach to Development of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan for Polotsk
The Mobility Plan will become a strategy to improve the transportation system of the city of Polotsk, northern Belarus. Mutually developed by local government, experts, civic associations, journalists, and entrepreneurs, this blueprint will allow 85 thousand Polotsk residents to move around the city with more comfort and safety.
Interakcia Foundation is the project's lead partner
“Participatory approach to the project is realized largely through the Public Working Group. Members of Polotsk non-governmental organizations, entrepreneurs, mass media, and just proactive citizens work together in the Group. They discuss a wide range of issues, for instance, how to make certain parts of Polotsk more accessible through public transportation, or whether it is necessary to introduce parking fees. Most importantly, however, the Group can deliver suggestions to Polotsk officials and experts," –
Anton Radniankou, Project Manager, Interakcia Foundation.
IMPORTANCE OF THE PROJECT
In 2004, Polotsk had 158 cars per 1000 citizens. However, for 6 years, this number grew two-fold: in 2010, more than 300 cars were registered per 1000 citizens (that is comparable to the situation in Minsk). But the number of public buses has fallen by 1/3 since 2004. Finally, the current Polotsk Master City Plan does not presuppose building any bicycle lanes, despite of the growing popularity of this alternative mode of transportation.
The above trends undermine the city’s ecology, public safety (more cars – more accidents), and economic development. Traffic jams and purely working public transportation cause time losses and psychological damage to urbanites and tourists.
The Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan should become a blueprint that will empower officials and residents to create an efficient transportation system for Polotsk, reflecting public needs. The mobility Plan will also touch upon the issue of commuting between Polotsk and Novopolotsk because the two cities, in fact, form one urban area.
Historical context: The project goes in line with the Sustainable Energy Action Plan that sets the aim of reducing CO2 emissions in Polotsk by 20% by 2020. The Plan was approved in 2012, after Polotsk became the first Belarusian city to join the Covenant of Mayors.
The Covenant of Mayors unites more than 6000 European cities that would like to be more eco-friendly and improve the quality of life of their citizens. It is worth noting that Interakcia Foundation was providing expertise during the development of the Polotsk Sustainable Energy Action Plan.
SIGNIFICANT RESUTLS (UP TO THE MOMENT)
In April 2014, the Working Group that supervises the development of the Mobility Plan was formed. The Group comprises officials from Polotsk government and municipal agencies. Learn more
And in July of the same year, the Public Working Group on Urban Mobility Issues conducted its first meeting. It can make and promote suggestions how to improve the transportation situation in Polotsk and evaluates solutions developed by the officials and experts. For instance, the Group members have indicated a junction that needs improvements in its road signs to reduce the waiting time for vehicles and pedestrians alike. This proposal has been already included in the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan. Among some of the Group's ideas for the forseeable future is to organize a unified bike rental system for Polotsk and Novopolotsk.
Today, the Group includes representatives of several civic associations and businesses: online assocition of cycling amateurs Velo NovoPolotsk, radio station Evropa Plus Polotsk, city news website 0214.by, bike shop Drive, bike rental services LikeBike (Polotsk) and Velogarazh (Novopolotsk), Polotsk District Center For Children and Youth. The Group is open to all relevant organizations and proactive Polotsk residents willing to and knowing how to turn Polotsk into a better place to live in and move around. Learn more
In September 2014, on a competitive basis, two expert organizations were chosen to work on a text and technical solutions for the Mobility Plan. They are the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning (BelNIIPgradostroitelsva) and the Belarusian Association of Transport Experts and Surveyors. The two organizations possess significant experience in researching mobility issues and devising new transportation solutions in Belarus and abroad.
In February 2015, the participants of the Working and Public Working Groups visited the German city of Dresden to learn how the local government has been improving the city's transportation system and how Dresden's NGOs and residents are participating in making decisions regarding the city's transportation problems. Dresden was chosen as the destination for the educational visit since the city had adopted its own Mobility Plan in 2014 (and later, in 2015, it was recognized as one of the best ones in the European Union). Learn more
Some images of the visit were included in the presentational video of Dresden's Mobility Plan
In March and April 2015, Polotsk residents could define their city's main transportation problems and solutions to them by paricipating in an online voting, which was actively supported and promoted by Polotsk media. Almost 700 people shared their views. Learn more
In July 2015, Polotsk's government signed the Charter of the European Mobility Week (EMW) and became the first Belarusian city that officially joined this festival of eco-friendly means of transportation. Since 2002, several thousands cities across Europe and the rest of the world have hosted this event. The capital city of Minsk and neighboring Novopolotsk followed the example of Polotsk, and later, in the final report on the EMW 2016, Belarus was named an "emerging country" for hosting EMWs.
During September 16-22, at exhibitions, discussions, and master classes, Polotsk citizens could learn how urban biking can improve the city's environment and how this mode of transportation has been growing more and more popular in the European Union. Moreover, Polotsk residents could enjoy the first city tour on bikes, participate in a quest game on bikes, and even compete in a bike race. In 2016, Polotsk is going to host its second European Mobility Week. Learn more
A short video about the European Mobility Week 2015 in Polotsk
Almost at the same time with the European Mobility Week, three schools in Polotsk and Novopolotsk participated in ZOOM Kids on the Move campaign. For each bike ride or stroll they could receive "green footprints". More than 250 schoolchildren collected around 4000 of such footprints, and on some of them the children wrote suggestions and ideas for the participants of the Climate Change Conference in Paris (November 30 – December 12, 2015). Learn more
And in March 2016, Polotsk residents chose the route for the city's first bike lane. Polotsk cyclists will be able to test the lane, which will be created thanks to the project, in summer 2016. More than 750 people voted in a online poll. The route that goes through Polotsk’s central streets, Aeroport neighborhood, and the park known as Kurgan appeared to be the most popular. Learn more
On May 28, 2016, during the City Day celebrations, the achieved results of the project were presented at the special event named Green Economy as a Belarusian Cultural Code, whose main organizer was the EU Delegation to Belarus. Right in the city's central avenue, active Polotsk cycling amateurs, representatives of the local office of road police, Polotsk government, and transportation experts from Minsk discussed the most challenging and controversial parts of the route of the first bicycle lane. Learn more
On July 15, 2006, for the second time, Polotsk government signed the European Mobility Week Charter that allowed the city again to become the first official participant of the EMW from Belarus. Learn more
The experts of the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning and the Belarusian Association of Transport Experts and Surveyors finalized the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan.
During September 16-22, Polotsk and hundreds of other European cities will host the European Mobility Week 2016. Durint this week, the first bycicle lane in Polotsk was launched. Citizens of Polotsk participated in bike ride, ciy picnic, promotonal action Day Without Car and other activities. Learn more
As it was in 2015, during Mobility Week, ZOOM Kids on the Move campaign was launched. (ZOOM Kids on the Move). All 17 schools of Polotsk, 2 schools of Novopolotsk and 2 educational organisations participated in the campaign.
On Spring 2017, 12 parkings for bicycles were established. New parkings appeared on F. Skaryna Avenue, on Nizhnie-Pokrovskaya street, at Spartak stadium, at the school №18 and at Energy service company at the Airport district, etc. While choosing places to establish parkings, public-opinin poll was conducted. Marking of the trails was renovated after winter time, and semispheres, that shared bicycle lane and drive way, were back to the roads.
The project ended with a large conference devoted to urban mobility. It was held in Mins on March 24, 2017. More than 20 speakers from Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, Sweden gathered together to share the experience and discuss plans and possibilities for sustainable development of regions of Belarus. Learn more
Recommendations on improvement mobility in Belarusian cities were presented during the conference. Experts in transport, safety of traffic, urban planning, development of bicycle traffic worked on the collection "Sustainable urban mobility planning". Also, collection for project managers "How to attract citizens to participate in your project" was issued. Practical recommendations on communicaton and engagement of locals based on experince of the project "From energy efficiency to urban mobility" in Polotsk in 2014-2017. Learn more
On May 26, 2017, Polotsk District Executive Comitteeconfirmedthe Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) that was developed during the project implementation. Comments of locals were considered in the final version of the Plan.
PARTNERS IN THE PROJECT
Interakcia Foundation (lead partner)
Polotsk District Executive Committee
Overall objective: To empower citizens and non-state actors (NSA) and support the local authorities (LA) and other relevant stakeholders in the City of Polotsk in the context of defining, implementing and evaluating a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP).
1. To strengthen capacities and support LA, NSA and other stakeholders in their ongoing activities aimed at sustainable urban mobility planning in Polotsk.
2. To increase the role of citizens and NSA in making, implementing and evaluating common decisions that relate to sustainable urban mobility planning in Polotsk.
ABOUT NON-STATE ACTORS AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
The overall objective of the Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development Program is to support operations aiming at promoting an inclusive and empowered society in partner countries in order to:
(a) benefit populations out of reach of mainstream services and resources and excluded from policy making processes;
(b) strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations and local authorities, with a view to facilitating their participation in defining and implementing poverty reduction and sustainable development strategies;
(c) facilitate interaction between state and non-state actors in different contexts and support an increased role for local authorities in decentralisation processes.