In early June, 20 participants from Czech and Slovak cities embarked on a five-day study tour seeking inspiration and lessons from the sustainable mobility success stories of Ljubljana and Maribor. Two partners, Transport Research Centre (CIVINET Czech and Slovak Republics secretariat) and ODRAZ (CIVINET Slovenia-Croatia-SEE secretariat), co-organized the event as part of their project CLIMASUM – Climate Mitigation through Sustainable Urban Mobility. The project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK).
Diversifying the Journey: A Taste of Graz
The study trip wasn't just dedicated to Slovenian cities – participants took the opportunity to diversify the train ride by enriching the experience in another city and starting our study trip with a short stop in Graz, Austria. Hosted by the City of Graz's Transport Planning Department, the group discovered their impressive pedestrian and cycling infrastructure initiatives. With a cycling modal split of 20.3% and plans to invest €100 million in cycling infrastructure this decade, Graz served as an exceptional example of sustainable mobility.
Ljubljana: A Green Transformation
The journey continued to Ljubljana's Town Hall, where Vita Kontić Bezjak, Department for Sustainable Mobility - City of Ljubljana, welcomed the group on behalf of the City, together with the co-organizing partners, representatives of ODRAZ. Vita Kontić Bezjak showcased the city's remarkable progress over the past few years, from a green vision to international recognition in sustainable mobility and plans for the future. Matej Prapotnik, the cycling Mayor of Ljubljana, followed up with a presentation entitled "Copenhagenize Ljubljana, Ljubljananize Prague," emphasizing the importance of attractive infrastructure, positive communication and effective policy advocacy for cycling. Gregor Stekalčić from the Ministry of Infrastructure provided an overview from the national level and insights on the master plan for cycling development in the region.
Taking advantage of Ljubljana's BicikeLJ public bike system, the participants embarked on a cycling tour guided by Janez Koželj, an avid cyclist, former deputy mayor of the City of Ljubljana, and chief architect. The tour presented the city center's transformation from a car-oriented into a pedestrian-friendly area with interconnected cycling infrastructure. A walking tour further showcased Ljubljana's historical context and other mobility measures.
Maribor: Workshop and Well-connected Cycle Paths
In Maribor, the workshop "Innovative approach to sustainable mobility" took place, co-organized by ODRAZ, the City of Maribor, and REGEA. The workshop commenced with an address by the Mayor of Maribor, setting the tone for a day filled with insightful presentations. Dorotea Rebernik and Mateja Bitenc from the City of Maribor shared examples of sustainable urban mobility and investment projects, some of which we later explored during an afternoon city tour. In the subsequent sessions, the focus shifted toward innovation. Uroš Pivk from RIDANGO shed light on the smooth operation of electric vehicles and the significance of data in electromobility management. Petra Grgasović from the EIT Urban Mobility RIS Hub Croatia presented funding options for cities to test innovations before committing to investments. The workshop's highlight was the "pitch session," where several European start-ups captivated the audience with their innovative solutions – from Bikademy and Urban Monkeys to Gepek, DISPO MARKET, SED Station, Wikimove, and SKANAUTO. During the interactive segment, participants were tasked with identifying the challenges faced by their respective cities and finding suitable tools from the presented start-ups to address them effectively. The information-packed day ended with a walking tour around Maribor, through locations with various interesting mobility innovations implemented: pedestrian zones and innovative pedestrian crossings, tactile markings for blind and partially sighted people, pedestrian-friendly traffic lights, conversion of parking spaces into social spaces parklet, Kiss&Ride, etc.
The exploration of Maribor's sustainable infrastructure continued the following day with presentations on cycling infrastructure, implemented projects, and experiencing the city's cycling infrastructure firsthand using the Mbajk public bicycle system. The group saw Maribor's new electric buses, fast charging capabilities and took a ride on the busiest line, number 6, which led to the renowned Maribor ski resort, Pohorje.
Empowered by Knowledge and Inspiration
The study tour provided invaluable knowledge, practical experiences, and networking opportunities. As evident from their positive feedback, participants left with renewed motivation to promote sustainable mobility in their cities.
"We greatly enjoyed the study tour! Slovenian hosts and your colleagues from Croatia provided a very interesting program. Their solutions for cycling and the calming of urban centers are well ahead of the curve compared to Czech Republic cities and especially ours. It is great that you're organizing such activities, and we will be pleased to hear about other planned events of this type."
"I want to thank you for a very well-organized study trip. It was very beneficial, and I believe we will be able to implement a lot of the knowledge, examples of good practice, and suggestions we received in cities in Slovakia. "
"The event was very well organized, and I commend the organizers."
Author: CIVINET Czech and Slovak Republics