Webinar “COVID-19 as a catalyst for change in sustainable transport planning”
Organized by CROSOL and ODRAZ as the Secretariat of the CIVINET network Slovenia-Croatia-SEE, webinar “COVID-19 as a catalyst for change in sustainable transport planning” was held on April 13, 2021, with representatives of the academic community and European cities presenting research and an overview of transport measures introduced across Europe as a result of the actual pandemic.
More than 130 participants from Croatia and neighboring countries had the opportunity to listen to inspiring presentations by foreign lecturers on how various European cities reacted to “lockdown” and COVID-19 and how changes can be quickly, cheaply and efficiently introduced by reallocation of road space.
The webinar was attended by 136 participants, which shows great interest in this topic – members of the CIVINET Slovenia-Croatia-SEE network from all countries, representatives of relevant civil society organizations and other European CIVINET networks, students of University North from Koprivnica and other interested stakeholders were present. In the first part of the program, participants were introduced to the measures introduced during the current health crisis in some European cities.
In his presentation, Ivan Cvitković from the University North focused on the overview of measures at the EU level and the ways in which cities adapt transport to support their communities during a pandemic. According to Google’s mobility reports, after the declaration of the pandemic there was a significant decline in mobility. A large number of workers (suppliers, medical workers) still had to use transportation to get to their workplaces. The importance of mobility during a pandemic is why cities around the world adapted their services or launched new ones on-demand. During the lockdown, there was an 11-48% increase in bicycle traffic in European cities. Unfortunately, nothing has been done in Croatia, except for general recommendations on social distancing and behavior in transport, Cvitković pointed out. The seasonal ENC discount has been temporarily extended, while some cities, such as Rijeka and Varaždin, have abolished parking fees. New reallocation of road space is easier to introduce in cities that already have a “past” with years of efforts to change towards more sustainable mobility.
In his next presentation, Tadej Brezina from the Institute of Transport of the Technical University of Vienna presented a study entitled “The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel to work from a multi-country perspective”. International online survey on changes in daily mobility during the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis was conducted between March 23 and May 15, 2020 in 102 countries. 11,555 respondents took part in the survey. The results confirmed that working from home was possible for 40 to 60% of respondents, while those traveling to work did not use public transportation for fear of infection. A pandemic has shown that in a few days or weeks a person can adjust their traffic habits to health care conditions. All research can be found at http://blog.fvv.tuwien.ac.at
Morgane Juliat from Rupprecht Consult spoke on Urban Mobility Planning and Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) in the context of COVID-19. She presented the SUMP 2.0 Guidelines and the COVID-19 SUMP practitioners briefing prepared to assist cities and regions in transport planning, giving priority to long-term goals and ambitions for sustainable urban mobility.
An overview of concrete measures in cycling infrastructure that have emerged across Europe in response to COVID-19 was presented by Aleksander Buczynski from the European Cycling Federation. He commented on the different motivations of cities for cycling measures, gave an example of specific measures taken in the city of Brussels and described in a broader context what has happened in Europe over the past year and a half, mentioning other measures and studies. He also commented on the tourism sector, which was severely affected during the pandemic, and pointed out that cycling tourism is very adaptable. What after a pandemic? Legislative changes are needed to make temporary measures permanent. Countries need to draw up national plans. Buczynski noted that 673 billion euros are available in the Recovery and Resilience Fund, of which 37% for climate goals. Investing in cycling infrastructure 100% contributes to these goals. See more about the possibilities of financing cycling infrastructure from EU funds at the following link: https://www.ecf.com/eu-funds-cycling
András Ekés, director of the Budapest-based mobility planning company Mobilissimus, which is also the secretariat of the CIVINET Hungary network, spoke about the measures introduced during the COVID-19 crisis in Hungarian cities. The rapid need for adaptation, the change in modal distribution, fewer users of public transport and the greater use of personal vehicles and bicycles are just some of the impacts that the pandemic has brought to Hungarian cities. Many cities lost financial resources and the need for new approaches and solutions was quickly realized, such as a pop-up solution for the cycling infrastructure in Budapest (which required a political compromise), the renewal of the bus service in Nyíregyház and the launch of public transport on demand in Zalaegerszeg. In addition, as the Secretariat of the CIVINET Hungary network, Mobilissimus has organized a number of virtual thematic meetings over the last year, through which cities and companies have exchanged good practice and experiences.
After the presentation, a panel discussion followed in which Aljaž Plevnik (Urban Institute of the Republic of Slovenia), Marko Slavulj (Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences, University of Zagreb), Jelena Nikolić (City of Kruševac) and Tadej Brezina (Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Transportation) participated. ).
The event was organized by ODRAZ as the Secretariat of the network CIVINET Slovenia-Croatia-SEE and the CROSOL Platform for International Civic Solidarity within the project “Towards an Open, Just and Sustainable Europe in the World – EU Presidency Project 2019-2021” funded by the European Union. the Finnish NGO development platform Fingo, the Romanian platform FOND, the Croatian platform CROSOL and CONCORD, the European Confederation of NGOs for Aid and Development. ”