The city of Dubrovnik is located on the southernmost part of Croatia and is the administrative and economic center of “Dubrovnik-Neretva” County. Dubrovnik is the most important and largest urban center in the county, as well as the seat of local government. According to the latest Census completed in the year 2011, there are 42,615 inhabitants living in urban areas of the City of Dubrovnik, which covers 3496 ha in size, divided into 16 settlements.
Dubrovnik, with its unique architectural heritage, rich tradition in tourism and economic development, serves as a representative destination that provides all the requirements, criteria and standards for the tourist economy. However, due to the high number of visitors, Dubrovnik’s traffic and transport infrastructure is under substantial pressure, therefore the need for sustainable planning and management became necessary.
The Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) – a major and strategic mobility development plan – was developed in 2013. Its basic purpose was to encourage sustainable forms of traffic in every segment of the transport system, while its principal role was to serve as the main transport medium for the creation of future urban plans and projects that are in any way associated with traffic. The plan was made on the basis of conclusions from a modal split study in the city of Dubrovnik, and it defined a joint strategy with the objectives, priorities, measures and proposals for activities of all stakeholders of the transport system in the area of Dubrovnik. By analysing the current situation of the transport system, basic traffic problems were detected, such as car overload in the city centre; motor traffic flow in the immediate vicinity of the historic core; bad connection between the main port and the Old City (especially for pedestrians); low usage of public transport; a lacking public transport role in maritime traffic and a disorganised parking system.
Based on the mentioned problems, the objectives of Dubrovnik’s SUMP were set as follows: ensuring the availability of access for all; increasing traffic safety and security; reducing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption; increasing the effectiveness and efficiency in the transportation of people and goods and increasing the attractiveness and quality of the urban environment.
The biggest challenge for the local government units and relevant institutions, however, was how to integrate the SUMP implementation into everyday practice. Since a SUMP precedes other city plans and supplements the existing development plans by providing a more effective and contemporary way of dealing with traffic in urban areas, local authorities faced the necessity of learning about the existing practices and legal frameworks of other EU Member States.
The 4th European Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans was held in March 2017 in Dubrovnik, and provided a great opportunity to learn from first-hand experiences. The conference gathered an immense number of experts and comprised numerous presentations on sustainability and it’s still complex – for many EU countries and cities – SUMP concept. Conference suppositions showed how important it is to develop a common understanding among key stakeholders, including what sustainability and sustainable mobility mean for the city and its surroundings. Furthermore, since a SUMP is based on a long-term vision for the development of transport and mobility for the entire urban agglomeration, and the choice of measures is guided not only by efficiency but also by feasibility, especially in times when budgets of local governments have decreased due to the economic crisis, it is crucial to achieve the maximum effect with minimum resource consumption.
Concretely for Dubrovnik, the implementation of the measures proposed by the SUMP can transform the city’s transport system from the classic passenger car custom system to sustainable forms of traffic – walking, cycling, public transport and environmentally friendly vehicles. In this way, it is possible to achieve a significant positive effect on the urban environment and make the city of Dubrovnik more enjoyable for its citizens, visitors and tourists.