As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, if promises from the National Plan for the Development of Bicycle Transport are to be believed, Croatian cyclists are set to be much better off, both in terms of overall infrastructure upgrades and in terms of general safety. In the proposal of the National Plan, investments in this field totalling almost 167 million euros between the years 2023 and 2027 have been defined
In addition to the modernisation of the existing infrastructure (which is desperately needed, especially here in Zagreb) and the construction of more new cycling infrastructure, part of the planned investments are also aimed at increasing safety, for which 1.82 million euros should be invested over the next four to five years.
All together, all of these investments and improvements should result in an increase in the number of Croatian cyclists all over the country. According to surveys of travel habits conducted for the purposes of creating the National Traffic Model (back in 2016), the amount of Croatian cyclists using their bikes as their main means of transport was below the EU average.
According to the comparative data referred to by the authors of the analysis, the daily use of bicycles for the EU member states amounted to about eight percent for the reference year, and six percent in Croatia, while the Netherlands (36%) and Denmark (23%) had the largest share of bicycle use.
To reach the European Union average, investments are needed across all segments of bicycle traffic, from infrastructure as a prerequisite for safety and the expansion of the range of services (a system of public bicycles, parking and other accompanying facilities), to the promotion and education of future road users.
The draft proposal for the National Plan for the Development of Bicycle Traffic 2023-2027 was prepared for the competent ministry (transport) by the Faculty of Transport Sciences in Zagreb in cooperation with its partners, and it has been put to public debate for a month now. For the purposes of its creation, data was collected on the “modal distribution of bicycle trips”. They make up 3% in Zagreb, 8.3% in Slavonski Brod, 8% in Sisak, 6% in Zadar, and Varazdin has the largest share, 26%. However, the fact that in the end, data on this was obtained for only 5 of the 29 largest Croatian cities (with more than 20,000 inhabitants living in them) points to challenges in the systematic collection, processing and analysis of traffic indicators in most cities.
The National Plan is based on the strategic goals of the EU in the field of green and sustainable mobility and the goals of several strategies Croatia currently has in the field of transport, tourism, environmental protection, healthcare and sport. The National Recovery and Resilience Plan also mentions encouraging bike traffic in several places.
The bike market here in Croatia is generally growing, and this statement in the analysis is supported by data from the CBS on the number of imported/exported bicycles from 2010 to 2020, which show that in recent years, imports accounted for about 100 thousand classic bicycles (without electric motors), and exports accounted for about 30 thousand.
Over more recent years, bicycles with electric motors have become increasingly prominent. For example, in 2020, 38,000 e-bikes were imported and 13,000 were exported, while back in 2016, around 5,000 were imported and 700 were exported. The demand for bikes in this country also speaks volumes about the potential for their greater use as a means of transportation, the authors conclude.
Among other things, public bicycle systems are an excellent complement to bus, tram, railway and other public transport systems, they noted, adding that their role is to make these systems more accessible to users. Back at the beginning of 2021, a public bicycle service was available in 33 Croatian cities, with 219 stations and over 1,350 bicycles on offer to the public.
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