Novi Sad is the first to start with incentives for purchasing bicycles
It has been a little over a year since the Novi Sad Cycling Initiative sent a proposal to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Government of the Republic of Serbia to subsidize the purchase of bicycles. Minister Trivan then appealed to local governments to start such campaigns, similar to the ones in the surrounding countries (North Macedonia, Montenegro).
In February 2021, with almost 40,000 regular cyclists, Novi Sad is on the verge of becoming the first city in Serbia to provide incentives for the purchase of bicycles.
It has been repeatedly stated in the public that the main polluters are industrial plants and individual furnaces. The harmful impact of too many old cars has been largely ignored, so the latest news about the public consideration of restricting the entry of the biggest polluters into the city center has been met with ambiguous reactions.
A year earlier, cyclists sent a proposal as a reaction to the announced granting of subsidies for the purchase of new taxi vehicles, for which the state has prepared significant subsidies. However, only a small percentage of these subsidies have been used, while bicycles are expected to be enjoyed by all.
Despite the fact that it is yet to be announced how these incentives will be awarded and in what amount, the total amount of 8 million dinars for 2021 has been budgeted at the city level. The Directorate for Environmental Protection titled this item “Encouraging the use of bicycles as environmentally friendly transport.” According to the description, the goal is “to increase the number of cyclists on the streets of the City of Novi Sad in order to improve air quality and decrease the environmental pollution.”
Novi Sad, the city of bicycles?
There are several reasons why Novi Sad is recognized in Serbia as the “cycling city” 🙂
At the end of the 19th century, it had a velodrome (on the site of a former Turkish khan). It is one of the first cities in Serbia where bicycle paths were built, and today it has almost the most widespread network of over 100 kilometers of bicycle paths.
For the first time, a bicycle traffic light was set up in Novi Sad, and Novi Sad was also the city where the first free bicycle self-repair station in Serbia was set up. A series of traffic counters on bicycle paths regularly provide data on the number of cyclists, and almost a decade ago, the first rent-a-bike system was introduced under the auspices of the Public utility company Parking service.
Novi Sad is the first city to officially allow cyclists to move through the pedestrian zone since 2011, after the protest where the Novi Sad Cycling Initiative had been founded. Shortly afterward, for the first time in Serbia, bicycle lanes appeared in the opposite direction in one-way streets. Experiments with red paint on bicycle crossings and bicycle lanes began early in Novi Sad.
In 2020, the city also started working on removing curbs from bike paths. In addition to incentives for the purchase of bicycles, Novi Sad cyclists can expect the city to work on the reconstruction of bicycle paths on Futoški put this year, and according to some announcements, on the embankment from Liman and Telep to Futog, along the international Eurovelo 6 cycling route.