With the contribution of the LIFE programme of the European Union - LIFE14 ENV/GR/000611
How sustainable mobility contributes to the win of the European Green Capital Award?
“Ljubljana - winner of the Official European Green Capital Award - will from today act as ambassador for sustainable urban development, sharing its local, best practices and encouraging other cities across Europe to become greener, healthier and more sustainable” – source European Commission’s Facebook page
This post was the motivation for raising various queries, such as “What is the European Green Capital Award?”, “Which are the criteria for winning it?” and “Which actions and changes, regarding sustainable mobility mainly, had to be done by Ljubljana’s authorities in order to win the award?”
The European Green Capital Award is a European Commission initiative aimed to recognise and reward local efforts, which have made to improve the environment, the economy and the quality of urban life.
The award is given to the city that achieves high environmental standards, sets ambitious goals for further environmental improvement and sustainable development, and serves as a role model to other cities. The wining cities to date include Stockholm (Sweden) in 2010, Hamburg (Germany) in 2011, Vitoria – Gasteiz (Spain) in 2012, Nantes (France) in 2013, Copenhagen (Denmark) in 2014, Bristol (United Kingdom) in 2015, Ljubljana (Slovenia) in 2016.
Concerning Ljubljana, since 2006 more than 1600 projects have contributed to the renewal of the Slovenian capital leading to its current synthesis and the win of many national and international awards, such as the European Mobility Week Award in 2013, the bronze Access City Award in 2015 and the European Green Capital Award in 2016.
In the past, the city center of Ljubljana used to be overcrowded with cars and the levels of air pollution were high. Since 2007 and according to the new Sustainable Mobility Plan which have been adopted, an ecological zone has been created, as the old city center is closed to all motorised vehicles, except of specific time windows, when the deliveries were made. Also, the transformations, which were made in part of the “Slovenska Street” and the banks of “Ljubljanica River”, improved the quality of public areas and turned them into attractive areas for pedestrians, cyclists and users of city buses. Consequently, the black carbon emissions have decreased by 58%.
Furthermore, the introduction of the multipurpose “Urbana” smart city card has made daily transports easier as it facilitates payments for many services. The most important of them concern rides on city buses, parking in public car parks and use of the funicular to Ljubljana. Card holders can also hire city bikes from the self service bike sharing system, named Bicike (LJ), and pay for services within the “Park and Ride (P+R)" system. These features of “Urbana” card combined with the modernization of public transport encourage citizens to combine different means of transport for their transports instead of using private vehicles and thus, contributed to lower pollution levels.
Concerning public transport, the regular updating of Ljubljana’s bus fleet, as most transport vehicles meet high environmental standards, the introduction of new and optimize bus lines and the instalment of modern real-time displays showing scheduled bus arrivals at bus stops are the reasons of the increment of the number of city transport users every year. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of city transport users has increased by 18.5 %. Additionally, a 34 % rise in journeys was also recorded on intercity and integrated lines between 2013 and 2014.
On more action which encourages sustainable mobility concerns the bike riding. As Ljubljana is a small size city situated on a plain with a mild climate, it is possible for citizens and visitors to commute by bike. Therefore, since 2011, more than 3 million journeys have been accomplished with the bikes offered by LJ system in the 220 km of managed cycling routes which are offered in the city.
Moreover, and regarding the bronze Access City Award in 2015, Ljubljana is recognised as one of the most successful European cities in the field of public space accessibility and public transportation for people with disabilities. The Demand Responsive Transport is one of the special programmes available for people with disabilities. Users can call a special phone number and request transport with an adapted vehicle, which means a vehicle with a ramp and space for persons with disabilities or a low-floor vehicle on its regular line.
Of course, the actions and changes, which improved quality of city life and led to the win of the European Green Capital Award, did not only concern public mobility and transportations. Ljubljana is the European capital with the highest ratio of green per inhabitant, as 75% of public areas are covered by green areas and 45% of them by native forests. In addition, it is one of the very few European capitals that can boast drinking water with no prior technological treatment. Concerning separately collected waste, the Slovenian capital has the largest share of it and thus is the first European capital to be part of the Zero Waste Europe network with a Zero Waste Strategy. Finally and regarding energy consumption more than 70% of homes in Ljubljana have already been connected to a district heating system and a natural gas network.
The LIFE GYM [LIFE14 ENV/GR/000611] project is co-funded by the LIFE programme, the EU financial instrument for the environment.
The sole responsibility for the content of this report lies with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union. Neither the EASME nor the European Commission are responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.
Start Date: 15 September 2015 – Duration: 35 months