Europe's leading urban mobility web portal facilitates a lively exchange of information among urban mobility practitioners
By Nathan Johnson
Eltis is a web portal developed for the dissemination of information related to sustainable urban mobility systems. Launched in 1998 and financed by the European Commission, the Eltis web portal hosts an impressive array of news items, case studies, video clips, statistics and tools for practitioners working in this rapidly developing sector. Eltis has tremendous value both as a regular news service and as a repository of hundreds of case studies.
Eltis news service
Eltis publishes, on average, two news items per working day. Local, regional, national and European perspectives are covered, while topics range widely from policies and initiatives to project details and calls for tenders.A roundup of headlines from a given week is a helpful indicator of what can be found on the Eltis portal on a regular basis: 'Frustrated cyclists start self-help group on Facebook' (Finland), 'Direct train connection to Warsaw Airport opens', 'European Mobility Week 2012: Registrations now open', 'New book published on best practices in cycling and walking' (Finland), 'Free WiFi in London's Underground stations during summer', 'T-Days becomes a routine event during summer in Bologna', 'Association of German Transport Companies questions free public transport', '10 days without a car: An official experience in Lodz', and 'Electric bus for football fans in Poznan'.
Not only is the news service constantly up to date, there is a well stocked news archive dating back to 2002-all of which is available free of charge. Website visitors can also search for news items by date, category, topic and country. There are four specific categories from which to choose (EU Calls and Tenders, EU Funded Projects, EU Initiatives and Policies, and Initiatives around Europe) and 12 specific topics (such as walking, cycling, logistics or mobility management).
What's more is that Eltis offers website visitors an opportunity to get involved by contributing news items of their own. All one needs to do help shape Eltis news content is to register as a 'Friend of Eltis', which simply involves inputting a few details and then logging in with an email address and password. In fact, registering as a 'Friend of Eltis' will entitle you to access further content, such as the monthly newsletter 'Eltis Mobility Update', the image archive or discussion forums.
Submitted news items should be current, provide a traceable source, and not be copied from other sources unless clear references are made. Contributions are subject to checks for language and content, and usually take a few days to appear online.
Eltis case study: Zagreb
One thing that helps to guarantee success in any endeavour is to draw lessons from other endeavours that have proven successful. For urban public transport professionals, the Eltis web portal is an ideal place to learn such lessons, as it contains details from more than 1,000 European case studies. If you have experiences to share about something that were implemented in your field - go ahead and submit a case study!
What follows is a description of one such case study, in this case an effort to improve traffic infrastructure and enlarge the bicycle network in the Croatian capital city of Zagreb.
As of 2003, the cycling situation in inner-city Zagreb was quite grim, with just 40 total kilometres of cycle lanes and very few cyclists using them. This was especially unfortunate in that Zagreb's position and size would otherwise make the inner city easily accessible by bicycle. Happily, this situation has been much improved since then, thanks in part a local cycling NGO, Bicikl.
The initial goal of Bicikl and the municipality was to add 110 km of cycling lanes to the inner city of Zagreb by 2007. This would involve changes in infrastructure, as include various educational and motivational campaigns to encourage more people to use a bicycle as a daily mode of transport.
The first measure to be implemented was a requirement to include a cycling lane in every reconstructed or newly built road. Initially, there were several bumps in these newly built or converted cycling lanes, which mad things difficult for elderly, disabled or parents with small children; but these bumps have since then been flattened, and all of the lanes are now convenient to use.
Another inner-city effort was to convert parking areas into pedestrian and cycling space. Also, many new cycling and pedestrian crossings were introduced in 2005.
One of the advantages of extending similar efforts outside of the inner city is that it's easier to use more available space to separate pedestrians and cyclists from motorised traffic, which is much safer. One cycling lane was recently opened along one of the most important east-west routes, Klaiceva Street.
Other efforts to promote cycling in Zagreb included the insertion of a 'City Cycling Map' into daily newspapers and the 'Friday to Friday' campaign, which loaned out bicycles for free to allow citizens to try commuting to work by bicycle for a whole week.
All in all, these pro-cycling efforts have been tremendously successful. The number of cyclists in the inner city has risen by more than 550%, and in 2007 there were more than 150 km of cycling lanes. The current urban plan is to establish a minimum total of 360 km of cycling lanes in future.
This is just one example amongst thousands of soft-transport plans formerly or currently being carried out throughout Europe. The Eltis web portal is the ideal place to go to learn about and stay informed of such developments.