Epidemic takeaways: Mobility

The COVID-19 pandemic and the related measures have affected our lives in many areas, including mobility. We read a lot about various measures cities and government introduced to promote walking and cycling.

The new reality during the epidemic was an ideal opportunity to introduce measures to promote active forms of mobility, as unusual conditions are a good starting point for creating new (travel) habits. At the same time, in the light of the epidemic, the World Health Organization emphasized the importance of limiting the spread of the virus and improving the conditions for active mobility as a contribution to this. Active mobility contributes to better public health and reduces air pollution, which has been recognized as another factor that can increase susceptibility to the disease and worsen its course.

Therefore, it is crucial to encourage active and sustainable mobility – ways of getting around that are good for our health and the environment – not only during but also after the Covid-19 pandemic.

IPoP has been active to encourage the Slovenian government and municipalities to take measures that support sustainable and active mobility during but also a green recovery after the epidemic. We have:

1. Called for investments in a green recovery

 

We sent a letter to the Minister of Infrastructure, to which we also added some concrete proposals for incentives and measures that could be included in the package of measures to deal with the consequences of the epidemic, such as expanding cycling and walking infrastructure, expansion of bicycle rental systems, development of mobility as a service and investments in railway infrastructure.

We support the call of the Coalition for sustainable transport policy (KTPP) for investments in sustainable transport infrastructure and other measures, i.e. railways, public transport, cycling and walking. The effects of these investments are long-term and synergistic, as they contribute to social, environmental and economic well-being.

“KTPP opposes taking advantage of the economic crisis to invest in road widening, as road widening has been shown not to increase traffic flow and eliminate congestion, but to damage the climate, pollute the air and increase transport costs for both government and households, especially external transport costs, which cost us as much as 6-10% of GDP (Lep et al., 2004).”

We joined the Slovene Alliance for Green Recovery calling economic and financial leaders and other stakeholders to form a national alliance for a green, smart and technologically advanced Slovenia.

The aim of the alliance is to call for (1) measures for a green economic recovery, (2) focus on a green, smart and technologically advanced Slovenia, (3) support the EU’s Green Deal, (4) establish a systemic approach for Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, as well as a strong and clear agenda for a green economy and (5) by 2023, prepare a comprehensive national strategy for the development of a climate neutral society by 2050 and actively engage in the implementation of European and international initiatives and programmes for climate change mitigation and adjustment.

We support the Green answer to the Covid-19 crisis initiated by Greenpeace Slovenia (Zeleni odgovor na krizo Covid-19) demanding that the government of the Republic of Slovenia coordinates the “restart” of the economy with measures that will lead to urgent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and protect us from climate change threats.

“We have the opportunity to direct investment and other economic policies in such a way that job creation will at the same time accelerate the transition to a carbon-free society. Otherwise, we will witness the accelerated decay of vital natural and social systems, the deepening of the environmental crisis and the indescribable suffering for humanity.”

2. Encouraged municipalities to support walking and cycling

 

We sent an appeal to Slovenian municipalities to allocate more space for walking and cycling during the pandemic including the following recommendations:

  • Allocate local roads to pedestrians and cyclists
  • Promote walking and cycling for commuting and daily errands and as a way of recreation
  • Keep bike rental systems operating and offer them for free
  • Disable the pedestrian crossing buttons
  • Adjust the intervals on the traffic light
  • Temporarily reduce speed limits in settlements and neighborhoods

3. Offered support with local experiments

 

We have offered assistance to one Slovenian municipality to adapt traffic to the epidemic. From the eight proposals to the call, Municipality of Škofja Loka (11.619 inhabitants) sent in the most persuasive one. The proposed measure combines “open street” and “school street”. Šolska ulica, a street that the municipality selected for redesign, will be open for people for five consecutive Saturdays. Cars will also be banned from the street during the morning drop-off for a week. Both measures are a test as Škofja Loka would like to redesign the street in the next few years. Through this temporary arrangement the municipality will gain data and experience for a permanent design.

 

Vir naslovne fotografije: Tadej Brezina, TU Wien

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