Reduction of motorized traffic by 2-3% in the following years sounds like an overly ambitious goal for a project, but in Dimitrovrad (Bulgaria) it is already happening. The Municipality launched an e-bike sharing system which is one of the pilot actions that will be implemented within the project Chestnut.

Environmentally friendly vehicles

“The residents of Dimitrovgrad will be able to use 20 electric bicycles, starting September 19th 2018 until end of May 2019. Environmentally friendly vehicles will be given up to an hour and a half free of charge with the provided ID card data and a completed application, with common rules for operation applied. For this purpose, two locations in the city will be provided,” said Yasho Minkov, Deputy Mayor.

50 km with one charge

The working hours for renting a bike is Monday to Friday, from 8 AM to 6 PM. Bicycles will be available until 4.30pm, so that they can be returned within working hours. Parents can rent bicycles for their children with appropriate responsibility. Every bike has GPS installed, which allows real-time monitoring of its location. GPS tracking system is monitored by seven employees involved in the project. The bikes can reach maximum speed of 40 km/h and can cross up to 50 km in one charge. Municipality of Dimitrovgrad financially supports the maintenance of the system, while each user takes responsibility regarding usage and potential damage of the bike.

Planned pilot actions

Dimitrovgrad is not the only city that will contribute to reduction of private vehicles usage. Prague District 9 is buying 10 bikes for bike sharing. Dubrovnik's Development Agency DURA is setting up 2 car charging stations and buying 20 e-scooters and e-bikes. Zadar County Development Agency ZADRA NOVA is setting up a bike sharing system with 30 bikes, establishing RFID smart card system.

They will learn good experiences from the project partners that have already started something similar in earlier project cycles: Municipality of Weiz, which extends its existing e-mobility system with new cargobikes and e-scooters, and Municipality of Velenje, which strives to upgrade the long-running Bicy system with additional stations, conventional and electric bicycles.

SUMPs at FUA level

Project partners who do not run a pilot actions will contribute in another way - by creating Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans on Functional Urban Area level. The SUMPs at FUA level are tools able to enhance the planning capacity in the mobility field of the regional/local authorities concerned and to lay down the basis to reduce the private motorized traffic.

By planning more sustainable mobility plans, introducing pilot actions, reducing motorized traffic in partner cities, the Chestnut project contributes to joint capitalization in Thematic Pole 6, thereby achieving the project's main goals.

Innovative project

Project aim is to show there are more environmentally-friendly methods of moving in urban areas in order to reduce pollution. “This is an innovative project that aims not so much to enable people to move around with electric bikes, but to show them that there are alternative ways to do so. This is a small step for Dimitrovgrad, but the citizen feedback is excellent. Along with all the other projects within the Capitalizaton Pool 6, the most ambitious goals can be achieved with such synergy,” commented Yasho Minkov.

Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)