Ljubljana is among the many most accessible European capitals for biking, and among the many cities which have invested most on this mode of transport. An interview with Lea Ružič, president of the Ljubljana Cyclists Community.
In recent times, Ljubljana has confirmed its place among the many biking capitals of Europe. With 73 kilometres of motorcycle lanes and 133 kilometres of biking routes, the town boasts a 13% modal share for biking (the share of individuals utilizing bicycles to journey throughout the metropolis) and a congestion index of 16% (further travelling time relative to a scenario of zero visitors).
A lynchpin and image of city reform has been the pedestrianisation and regeneration of Slovenska Cesta, one of many metropolis’s important boulevards.
In 2003 and 2014, the town was awarded the European Mobility Week award (EMW) – due to the measures adopted to advertise biking within the metropolis – and in 2018 Ljubljana got here second for the European Fee’s prize for probably the most accessible metropolis, and first prize for Accountable Tourism, awarded by World Journey Market. As well as, the town got here eighth within the CoPENHAGENIZE INDEX 2017, which ranks one of the best cities for city biking, in accordance standards similar to biking tradition, visitors calming, the presence of infrastructure, and the share of journeys by bike throughout the metropolis.
To speak about what is going on in Ljubljana, we met with Lea Ružič, president of Ljubljanska kolesarska mreža (Ljubljana Cyclists Network), an organisation which is a part of the European Cyclists’ Federation, whose member organisations are sowing the seeds for sustainable mobility.
Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa: To start with, what’s the purpose of your organisation?
Lea Ružič: The Ljubljana Cyclists Community is an NGO based in 2000, with the primary goal of bettering the circumstances of city biking in Ljubljana. Initially we solely focused on occasions and protests to demand enchancment of the biking routes, however now we work on different tasks, organising bicycle excursions and different actions to advertise and encourage biking.
How do you fee the standard of city biking in Ljubljana?
It’s not straightforward to say. We’re in higher situation in comparison with different much less cyclable European cities, however we’re nonetheless effectively behind extra superior international locations just like the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and maybe additionally Germany.
Even inside Ljubljana itself there are differing ranges of high quality. It’s true that there are some high-quality bike paths from the 60s and 70s, constructed to Danish requirements, and a number of the newer paths are respectable.
In recent times the scenario within the metropolis centre has certainly improved enormously by way of routes and parking services. Bike sharing has additionally proved profitable and is extensively used.
You point out differing ranges of high quality, however in any case, Ljubljana is eighth within the CoPENHANGENIZE INDEX 2017, an index which strains up one of the best cities in Europe for city biking…
It’s true, Ljubljana is among the many high ten most cyclable cities in Europe, notably because of the comparatively excessive modal share of city cyclists, however it appears to us that that is much less on account of notably beneficial circumstances for biking – though the truth that the town is flat and comparatively small does it some favours – than for the poor high quality of public transport and a consolidated custom of city biking.
Furthermore, there was no break in the usage of bicycles because of the arrival of cars, as occurred for instance within the UK. Lots of people nonetheless journey bikes, together with the younger, previous and ladies, which is a superb signal. But, to be trustworthy, all of the Dutch cities must be within the high ten earlier than us, since we aren’t at their degree.
What are probably the most essential points?
Outdoors of the centre there are lots of insufficient conditions, similar to: interruptions within the biking route (paths that disappear or result in areas the place biking is prohibited); the bike paths alongside roads are too slim, and never consistent with requirements of consolation and security; the biking routes on footpaths are sometimes simply marked by a line, which creates conflicts with pedestrians, and generates uneasy conditions because of the elevation distinction on intersections and crossings; the upkeep of the paths and routes generally is a drawback, particularly for older individuals and in the course of the winter; biking isn’t perceived as utterly risk-free, as proven by the shortage of youngsters who cycle.
Ljubljana can also be missing areas for parking bikes, particularly secured areas (close to stations, suburbs, colleges), and there isn’t even one guarded parking facility in the entire metropolis. The connections between rural and suburban areas and the town can also be an issue. There aren’t any well-connected long-distance bike routes, solely incoherent fragments of low-quality routes.
On the entire, then, sure, there may be some respectable infrastructure, however in our opinion it’s sadly overshadowed by inadequacies.
On which factors is there most space for enchancment?
Ljubljana has made progress by way of sustainable mobility, and never simply with regard to biking. In recent times, preferential lanes have been made for the buses, there are extra rigorous guidelines concerning parking, pedestrian zones, commerce companies, good playing cards, bike sharing, cleaner buses, enhancements to the community, actions for European Mobility Week, and so on. There are loads of room for enchancment in public transport, and connecting the biking routes. Probably the most critical issues for mobility are linked to commuters coming from all of the suburbs and throughout the metropolis the place many of the jobs are discovered. This commuting is all carried out with personal cars, as a result of the roads are good, and the railways are mediocre. There is no such thing as a ample coordination between the planning of mobility at native and nationwide ranges, so Ljubljana presently wants assist from the state to maneuver individuals from automobiles to different technique of transport throughout the metropolis.
How do you regard the native insurance policies on biking?
Bikes positively play a job throughout the transport system, however we get the impression that within the planning phases they’re assigned the minimal requirements and aren’t seen as a precedence. The excellent news is that this 12 months there will likely be a big fund for bettering the biking infrastructure (about 6 million euro).
How do you place yourselves with respect to the native administration?
The scope of our organisation is to enhance the circumstances of city biking in Ljubljana, due to this fact insofar because the council works in that path, we approve and assist each sort of exercise which brings us nearer to our objectives.
If the council makes choices which could impinge on the recognition of biking, similar to favouring motorised transport or low-quality infrastructure, we allow them to know we don’t agree; nonetheless, our cardinal rule right this moment is collaboration. After a interval the place we positioned ourselves in opposition to the administration, we realised that cooperation is a win-win for each side.
Sooner or later we are going to take part with the council in growing tasks which can enhance our visibility and make biking extra well-liked.
The area’s chief
Slovenia’s dedication to sustainable mobility has put them on the helm of regional cooperation on this concern. In October 2013 it organised the assembly, “Biking in Central and Jap Europe”, which result in the creation in 2016 of the CIVINET community, of which Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are members. With Italy they based the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (@GECTGO) to revitalize the border area between Gorizia, Nova Gorica and Šempeter Vrtojba, financed with 10 million euro from Interreg Italia – Slovenija. Inside this framework, the “ISONZO – SOČA” project goals to revitalise the Isonzo/Soča river space by way of sustainable tourism with a community of biking and mountain climbing routes, and the primary “city cross-border park”.
This text has been produced throughout the undertaking The Parliament of Rights, co-funded by the European Union. The contents of this publication are the only real duty of Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa and its companions and may on no account be taken to mirror the views of the European Union.
Translated from the Italian by Ciaran Lawless
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