• Lead project partner – Interakcia Foundation (Minsk)
Project partner – Polotsk District Executive Committee
• Period of realization – March 2014 – March 2017
• Place of realization – Polotsk
• Budget – ? 334 000, European Union contribution – ? 299 500 (90%); Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development Programme (NSA&LA)
The goal of the project is to provide a strategy to improve the transportation system of the city of Polotsk. Mutually developed by the local authorities, experts, public associations, media, entrepreneurs, and just active urbanites, this blueprint will allow 85 thousand Polotsk residents to move around the city with more comfort and safety.
"Participatory approach in the project is realized largely through the Public Working Group. Members of Polotsk non-government organizations, entrepreneurs, mass media, and just active 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 transport, or whether it is necessary to introduce parking fees. Most importantly, however, the Group can deliver suggestions to the local authorities and experts," – Anton Radniankou, Project Manager, Interakcia Foundation
In 2004, Polotsk had 158 cars per 1000 citizens. Now, more than 300 cars are registered per 1000 citizens (this figure is comparable to the situation in Minsk). That is, for 6 years the number of cars in Polotsk has doubled. At the same time, the number of public buses has fallen by 1/3 since 2004.
These 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 the authorities and residents to create an efficient transportation system for Polotsk that will reflect public needs. The mobility Plan will also touch upon the issue of commuting between Polotsk and Novopolotsk, where a major Belarusian oil refinery is situated. The two cities, in fact, form one urban area.
The project goes in line with the Sustainable Energy Action Plan that aims to reduce 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 want to be more ecological and improve the quality of life of their citizens.
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 the local authorities as well as officials from the Polotsk municipal agencies.
• In July 2014, the Public Working Group on urban mobility issues conducted its first meeting.
The Group today includes representatives of several public associations and businesses: Komitety Obschestvennogo Territorialnogo Samoupravleniya (lit.: Territorial Committees on Public Self-Governance), online assocition of Polotsk and Novopolotsk cycling amateurs Velo NovoPolotsk, radio station Evropa Plus Polotsk, bicycle shop Drive, bicycle rental shop Velo-Garazh, Polotsk District Center For Children and Youth. The Group is open to all relevant organizations and just active Polotsk residents willing to and knowing how to turn Polotsk into a better place to live in and move around.
• In September 2014, on a competitive basis, two expert organizations that are now working on a text and technical solutions for the Mobility Plan were chosen.
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 authorities have been improving the city's transportation system as well as how NGOs and Dresden dwellers participate in decision making regarding the city's transportation problems. Dresden was chosen as the destination for the educational visit since the city had just recently adopted its own mobility plan.
ACTIVITIES FOR 2015
• Throughout the year, the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning and the Belarusian Association of Transport Experts and Surveyors will be conducting a set of studies on the current mobility situation in Polotsk, including such issues as passenger flows, car accidents, use of public transport.
The resutls of the studies will inform so-called scenarios for the transportation development of the city: for instance, one of them may presuppose the preservation of the current system of roads and public transportation, while another scenario may lead to the development of alternative modes of moving around Polotsk, such as bicycle lanes.
The scenarios will be deliberated by the experts, authorities and of course the members of the Public Working Group to ensure that a scenario to be chosen for Polotsk will represent the citizens' real interests and needs. The chosen scenarion will become a basis for specific meausers to deal with the transportation problems. These measures will comprise the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan for Polotsk.
• During September 16-22, 2015, the European Mobility Week will take place in Polotsk. Thanks to this event, Polotsk residents will get a chance to see how other European cities are developing public transportation. Also, they will learn more about ecological and economic efficiency of urban cycling. Moreover, for Polotsk car drivers a car free day will be organized. Workshops on contemporary approaches to urban mobility will be also conducted within the European Mobility Week.
• Thanks to the project, the city of Polotsk will receive its first bicycle lane. Polotsk residents themselves will choose a route for this lane. They will be able to submit their ideas to a special competition that is going to take place in spring 2016 (the construction of the lane will be launched at the same time).
• 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).
• To strengthen capacities and support LA, NSA and other stakeholders in their ongoing activities aimed at sustainable urban mobility planning in Polotsk.
• To increase the role of citizens and NSA in making, implementing and evaluating common decisions that relate to sustainable urban mobility planning in Polotsk.