On Thursday, May 18, 2020, the city of Kruševac was declared the winner of the European Mobility Week 2019 award in the category of larger municipalities, while the cities of Rethymnon (Greece) and Wroclaw (Poland) were also in the final selection. The Municipal Energy Efficiency and Management Project in Serbia implements the EEA (European Energy Award) certification process in Krusevac, and is supported the Swiss Confederation. One of the 6 areas which EEA certification analyzes and takes into account is urban mobility.
In the category of smaller municipalities, Karditsa (Greece) won. The remaining two significant awards for sustainable mobility, announced by the European Commission, went to Brussels Capital Region (Belgium) – 8th SUMP Award and to Pontevedra (Spain) – 1st EU Urban Road Safety Award.
The Serbian city of Kruševac impressed the jury with its wide range of activities, underpinned by strong citizen participation and political support from the local government. Even the mayor was ‘walking the walk’, coming to work on foot to help spread this year’s mobility message. During EMW 2019, the city streets enjoyed a new burst of life without cars, not only in the centre – which was taken over by pedestrians – but also in the suburbs, where people organized a variety of activities. The face of the city was also transformed, with the installation of new cycle paths, walkways, public squares, urban parks, benches and even swings.
The mayor of Krusevac, Jasmina Palurović, said that the award is the result of many years of work because the city actively participates in EMW. In 2016, he was shortlisted together with Lisbon, Malmö, Skopje, Prague, Valencia and other cities. Kruševac is also known as the first city to adopt a sustainable urban mobility plan (SUMP).
“It is a good opportunity to draw attention to the use of public areas for sustainable modes of transport and to review everyday movement habits of citizens. This is valuable for the city authorities because in this manner they receive citizens’ feedback in an informal way,” Jelena Nikolić, Advisor for Sustainable Urban Mobility and Energy Efficiency in the City of Kruševac, said.
Since 2015, Kruševac has started temporarily closing the main street in the city center for motor traffic. That year, the street was closed every night during all 7 days of the European Mobility Week, so that based on the positive reactions of citizens, this measure could be applied and extended every year, so last year this traffic regime was in force from mid-April to mid-October. Children are most happy when the street is closed to traffic. This temporary measure affected the way of thinking about the use of public areas and how the city center would look without cars. Considering that on 2021 Kruševac will celebrate its 650th anniversary of the founding of the city, the idea is for the center to get a new look for that anniversary. On that occasion, a survey was conducted among citizens on how they see the future appearance of the city center. After that, a public competition was announced for the development of an architectural-traffic solution, and the works are expected to start at the end of this year. In addition to this, the promotion of sustainable movement was organized, through the organization of city bicycle rides and walking tours. Noise measurements were also organized to draw attention to the impact of traffic on the environment.
“Over 50 associates from the public, private, educational sector, as well as associations, participated in the celebration of the European Mobility Week 2019. We are proud that from year to year our team of associates increases, as well as the number and variety of activities for all ages. Special attention should be paid to vulnerable groups in traffic and those who may have difficulty moving around the city. Through their involvement in the event, you give the message that they are visible and that their needs are being addressed. We designed activities and included Associations of Persons with Disabilities, Associations for the Fight Against Diabetes (active movement is very important for them), senior citizens and children. Last year, for the first time, we made the mascot of Edgar, which was indispensable in all activities and attracted the attention of citizens of all ages, Jelena added.
The European Mobility Week campaign takes place every year from 16 to 22 September, providing an opportunity for European cities to try sustainable transport alternatives. In the previous year, over 3,100 cities applied to participate in the campaign, which makes 2019 the most successful. An independent jury of mobility and transport experts announced the winners on the topic of safe walking and cycling.
In the region of Western Balkans, the ORF-EE, together with its partners – the national associations of municipalities, supported the participation in the EMW 2019. The project on Sustainable Urban Mobility in South-East European Countries (SUMSEEC II) is implemented by the GIZ Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Energy Efficiency and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).