The Kosovar city of Mitrovica South was nominated as a finalist for the 10th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP Award) that focused on ‘Safe and Healthy with Sustainable Mobility’. Among the other finalists were the cities of Madrid (ES) and Tampere (FI), of which the latter won the award.
Taking the socio-economic and traffic situation of Mitrovica and Kosovo into consideration, you can observe that the plans are very ambitious, as they include the lobbying of the central government, as well as demanding goals like zero traffic accidents by 2025. This shall be achieved by the reorganisation of the road network, by traffic calming measures in the city centre and by a modal shift from car use to active mobility. The younger generation is educated to develop a different mindset by promoting sustainable school trips by foot or bike. In order to get the pupils to and from their schools safely, several actions are being taken:
- Improvement of the road design for pedestrians and cyclists by reducing the need for protective fences to improve road crossings and develop traffic calming and safety measures within local areas to reduce vehicle speeds.
- Lobbying of the central government for a register of traffic violations including a point system with penalties for multiple violations.
- Creating a safe environment for all road users, especially the most endangered road users, such as cyclists, pedestrians, and people with disabilities.
- Traffic calming - creating 20-30 km /h speed zones around schools and other educational institutions to improve safety and encourage more children to consider walking or cycling for their school trip.
All of these measures are in line with the 2021 slogan of ‘safe and healthy with sustainable mobility’. Safe walking and cycling were another essential topics of their SUMP. Several key aspects of pedestrian safety in the SUMP are:
- Development of strategic concepts of pedestrian network - with adequate design standards and associated spaces for different types of pedestrian roads throughout the city.
- Extension of the pedestrian area in the city and improvement of walking conditions around the main boulevards and squares of the city.
- Removal of physical barriers that hinder pedestrian movement.
Other plans to reduce the negative externalities of the 28.5% of trips done by passenger vehicles are:
- The setup of a multi-modal station next to the railway station to integrate more means of transport.
- Development of three bus lines with an integrated ticketing system to bring public transport back to the city.
- Promote public transport commuting by establishing a 'Joint Regional Transport Association' and set up a regular bus service for all Northern municipalities (as 13% of residents in Northern Kosovo commute to Mitrovica South on a daily basis).
The SUMP jury has awarded Mitrovica South as a finalist to provide encouragement and acknowledgement that their efforts of promoting sustainable urban mobility across Europe as a Central- and Eastern European city are recognised and appreciated. It is in the nature of the SUMP Award that plans are awarded, as the focus is less on the implementation. Thanks to the ambitious plan that was presented to the jury, Mitrovica South has a fantastic opportunity to quickly transform its mobility policy by leapfrogging intermediary steps through the adaption of best practices from other European cities presented on Eltis.