Alternative urban mobility was promoted in Plovdiv with a large-scale bike parade

Alternative urban mobility was promoted in Plovdiv with a large-scale bike parade

03 Nov 2017 | 13:45

More than half a billion levs will be invested in new and environmentally friendly vehicles and bike lanes by 2023, announced the Deputy Regional Minister Denitsa Nikolova


More than 100 people took part in a cycling tour of the rowing canal in Plovdiv as part of an initiative to promote alternative urban mobility. The bicycle line was headed by the Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Denitsa Nikolova, the Mayor of Plovdiv Municipality Ivan Totev, the Deputy Mayor Georgi Tityukov, the Deputy Governor of Plovdiv District Dimitar Kerin and others. The initiative was also supported by Botev Plovdiv’s football legends Petar Zehtinski and Atanas Pashev, the two-time Olympic champion Nikolay Buhalov and the international referee Atanas Uzunov. The participants in the bike parade travelled a distance of 5.2 km, after which prizes were awarded in a special raffle. Deputy Minister Nikolova bestowed the grand prize - a new bicycle, that was won by the 11-year-old Yoan.

“With this initiative, we want to show what we have achieved with EU funds, as well as the solidarity of the Union. In just a few years, we have changed the look of Plovdiv. We have built 48 km of new bike lanes; the completion of another 20 km is forthcoming. This allows us to develop the city in a more eco-friendly manner, to create a healthier environment and culture. But what is ahead of us is to improve the culture of movement and tolerance among all participants in traffic in order to move in a safer way”, Deputy Minister Denitsa Nikolova said. She stressed that one of the main goals in the construction of bike lanes was to reduce road accidents and to replace the means of urban mobility. “We appreciate and support the efforts of Mr. Totev and his team to build more bike lanes in Plovdiv so that the city is among the first with a comprehensive alternative transport network”, added Nikolova.

She reminded that with funds from the Operational Programme “Regional Development”, under the projects for integrated urban transport, 256 buses, trolleys buses and trams have been replaced with new, more ecological ones in the seven largest Bulgarian cities by 2015. 115 km of bike lanes have been built, which has set the beginning of alternative urban mobility. The total investment in these activities is BGN 413 million. This has contributed to the improvement of travel opportunities, but also for air cleanness, Deputy Minister Nikolova said. In the programming period up to 2020, investments on this line will continue. BGN 237 million from the OP “Regions in Growth” will be awarded to projects with the main aim being to scale up everything that has been achieved so far.

Earlier in the day, in the building of Youth Theatre – Plovdiv, Deputy Minister Denitsa Nikolova and Mayor Ivan Totev opened a round table on the priorities for the upcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the sphere of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works. The Deputy Minister stressed that the main emphasis would be on the policy for balanced development of regions.

“The MRDPW has two main functions - tracking EU policy on urban development and territorial cohesion. This is the third main pillar of cohesion policy and receives 1/3 of the EU's budget. It means less developed countries catching up with the more developed ones”, Nikolova stated. She reminded that by 2020, Bulgaria has a total of BGN 7.6 billion from the structural funds, which are targeted precisely in territorial cohesion projects and initiatives. “Bulgaria will defend the polycentric development policy, which means stopping migration in smaller towns and helping the development of regions”, the Deputy Minister said. In the EU, more than 70% of the population is concentrated in large cities which receive the highest funding and become the main centers of growth and development. For us, however, the fairer model is a more balanced development of the territory, with support for smaller cities - satellites of the big ones as well, which will have a better effect on the development of the regions”, Nikolova pointed out. She reminded that the model we are pursuing is for support of investments under the Operational Programme “Regions in Growth” 2014-2020 in 67 towns that receive funding for change in the look of urban environment, energy efficiency, improvement of social, cultural and educational infrastructure, etc. Deputy Minister Denitsa Nikolova also pointed out that with the European funding and the capabilities of the state budget, the mechanisms for implementing regional policy through an integrated investment approach are sought.

The round table and the bike tour in Plovdiv took place in pursuance of the main priority of the Communication Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria for the European Union – “Promoting an Effective Partnership - Together We Can Do More in the EU”. Its aim is to put at the center of public debate the topic of urban mobility, which is an integral part of the European issue for the development of smart cities, and is directly related to improving quality of life, inclusion of towns, citizens' health and the protection of the environment. It corresponds to the priorities set by the MRDPW in the framework of the upcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018 in the field of urban development and, in particular, the monitoring of the implementation of the Urban Agenda for the EU and the activities under the partnerships established within the framework of the Pact of Amsterdam, which set out the basic and pan-European principles for urban area planning and development.