|GP/SP: An Integrated Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan in Belarus|
The cities of Polotsk and Novopolotsk in northern Belarus are in the process of developing an Integrated Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (ISUMP) with the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Polotsk, a city of around 83,000 people, is a major tourist attraction, while Novopolotsk, which was originally a satellite town of its neighbour, now has a population of more than 105,000 many of whom are employed by the city’s large petrochemical plant, the largest in the country. Polotsk was the first city in Belarus to sign the Covenant of Mayors and to finalise a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP), while Novopolotsk is in the process of signing the Covenant1.
Polotsk began the process of developing a SUMP using a participatory approach in 2014, as part of an EU-supported project led by the Interakcia Foundation, which also involved the Polotsk District Executive Committee. The city saw a doubling of car ownership in the six years from 2004, while the number of public buses fell by a third. This has led to increased congestion, pollution and adverse effects on safety and the economy.
A Public Working Group on Mobility Issues, involving civic society and local businesses, has been set up to provide input to the development of the SUMP. The city has also organised online polls, exhibitions and discussions in order to engage with its citizens and to enable them to provide feedback on the Plan. Experts were commissioned to lead on the development of the plan, which has already led to a mapping out of bicycle lanes and bus routes in the city, which will be implemented by 2030. The city also signed the charter of European Mobility Week (EMW), and so became the first city from Belarus to officially participate in this annual event2.
The concept for the SUMP in Novopolotsk has been developed by the Belarusian Transport Union (BTU), which will also develop the actual plan itself, within the framework of the Support Programme of Belarus of the Federal Government of Germany. The city is only 10km from its neighbour Polotsk, and so the two cities’ transport links are important to each other. As with its neighbour, Novopolotsk has seen an increase in car ownership levels, which are now approaching the average level in the EU, and a decline in the number of buses, resulting in similar problems. The city has responded by inter alia giving public transport priority and by developing cycle lanes. Novopolotsk was the first city in Belarus to take part in EMW, although it has only officially participated more recently along with Polotsk and the capital Minsk1,3,4.
One of the aims of the GEF-funded project is to prepare an Integrated SUMP covering both cities, based on the respective SUMPS that have been developed independently. The GEF project will also enable a better understanding of existing traffic flows, as it will support traffic surveys and modelling. Other anticipated outputs of the project will include a feasibility study for the integration and extension of the two cities’ cycle networks, detailed plans to improve public transport, including priority lanes and junctions and improved facilities, as well as investment to improve cycling infrastructure and public transport services 1.
1. UNDP (2015) ‘Supporting Green Urban Development in Small and Medium-Sized Cities in Belarus’, Project Document, project id 00090983; see http://www.by.undp.org/content/belarus/en/home/operations/projects/environment_and_energy/Green-cities.html
2. Interakcia Foundation (2016) ‘From Energy Efficiency to Urban Mobility: Introducing Participatory Approach to Development of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan for Polotsk’; see http://eu-belarus.net/en/projects/5
3. ODB Brussels (2015) ‘Environmentally Sustainable Transport and Comprehensive Mobility: Prospects for Belarus’; see http://odb-office.eu/expertise_/transport/environmentally-sustainable-transport-and-comprehensive-mobility-prospects-belarus
4. ODB Brussels (2016) ‘How Navapolatsk Improved the Mobility of Its Residents’; see http://odb-office.eu/expertise_/transport/how-navapolatsk-improved-mobility-its-residents
For the GEF project:
For the project to develop Polotsk’s SUMP: