SUMP Vision. Lviv: perspective

Lviv in 2035 is a city, attractive for residents and numerous guests, with high quality of life almost in every point of its area. Lviv has become another European city of short distances. Its residents experience considerable improvement of their life quality as all their trips are pleasant and highly time-predictable. The times people spend in transit have considerably reduced. High-quality public spaces are appealing, while good environment and calm transport climate became a visiting card of Lviv.

 

Mobility is not luxury for the privileged as every resident of Lviv, irrespective of their age, gender, income and health condition, has access to transit with comfortable, reliable, prompt and affordable connection between all the city points due to dense and well-structured route network with convenient schedules, fares and transfer opportunities. The calm transport climate on the streets has enabled cycling as a reliable and speedy opportunity to pass through entire city without obstacles. A bicycle is now a full-fledged transport alternative for long distances as well. Same as before, people prefer walking, to longer distances as well, as the vegetated street spaces offer quite attractive conditions for this sort of mobility. Walking over the city street, as well as logically and consistently developed network of walking paths beyond the streets, became much more reliable and pleasant due to lighting and safe junctions with transport.

 

Almost every family uses a car. However, owing to good alternative options and moderate regulation of car use (first of all, with parking regulation) the cars are used only in cases without other acceptable alternatives. This is also complimented with the advanced digital mobility tools, oriented at occasional needs, included to the Smart mobility direction. For instance, the tools for shared use of vehicles: car-sharing, bike-sharing, scooter-sharing etc.

The special-service vehicles perform a city without delays in traffic or lack of places for stop. City’s freight transport services are reliable and efficient due to agreed, in terms of space, general concept of priority routes and transit schedules for large-sized vehicles, special-purpose parking spaces for goods delivery, regulatory support of cargo vehicles acceptable for city, in particular, cargo bicycle rental.

How we managed to achieve this?

Fifteen years ago Lviv was at the parting of its ways. Using a car was considered an indispensable sign of personal status and wealth. In the previous years, the numbers of car ownership and use have greatly increased, big residential communities were emerging, often in places with inconvenient transport connection. Lviv residents demanded, from the new developments, 100% provision of parking spaces. In spite of the fact that number of private car trips remained much lower than in the similar West-European cities, the jams were making great inconveniences, especially in the districts close to the city center.

Other challenges, painful for the city, were:

  • numerous road accidents with the injured and dead;
  • considerable obstacles on the way of not always comfortable public transport greatly overloaded during the peak times;
  • exhaust gases and transport noise had negative impact on the residents’ feeling and health;
  • unattractive pedestrian infrastructure (except for the districts, adjacent to the city center), unfavorable conditions for walking and cycling;
  • inhumane space, not adjusted for people with low mobility, and namely, the elderly and wheelchair users.

There was a threat that Lviv would become a city with never-ending traffic jams, smothering with car fumes, once experienced by other European cities several decades before.

 

The three factors became decisive in order to stop and direct these negative trends to the right channel:

1. While developing the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan for Lviv, the developers managed not to make a popular mistake of simple copying the approaches of other cities. Lviv was searching for its own way, relevant to the local conditions. We didn’t mean declaring a car our enemy and making its use more complicated. People understood that increased car use would increase the city’s problems by themselves as they faced the above-mentioned challenges every single day. Therefore, the main goal, with account of financial and legal framework conditions, was limiting the use of motor vehicles to the level acceptable for the city. We achieved this through combining, on the one side, of measures for improvement of walking and cycling, and first of all, public transport infrastructure and, on the other side, of regulatory measures in parking, speed limiting and traffic management. Some positive trends have grown sensible: numbers of car ownership were moderately growing and the residents, who not that long ago used only their private cars, started seeing the benefits in other mobility modes. One of the decisive factors for positive perception of this strategy became the fact that the implemented big integrated projects, first of all, of street and square reconstruction, were clearly demonstrating the benefits one could achieve both in terms of safety and quality of movement for different road users. Lviv committed itself to implementing the Vision Zero concept.

 

2. At the same time, despite the complicated economic situation in Ukraine in general, the housing development of Lviv was increasingly dynamic. It was characterized with high number of development projects, mainly, carried out by private investors. These objects where located mainly between the city center and districts at the edge of the city. In the course of intensive dialogue with developers, the city succeeded in directing these processes towards developing the blocks with mixed functions (residence + offices + commerce + social and recreational infrastructure) and attractive open spaces, not overloaded with motor vehicles. Development of post-industrial areas assisted to considerable improvement of connection between the available residential districts, first of all, with public transport routes, and opportunity to make the districts more independent in terms of functions. In their projects, the investors where increasingly oriented at axes and transit nodes. This way we managed to change paradigms towards the integrated urban development which lead do minimizing the increase of motor vehicles and new mobility needs are now satisfied mainly with, ecologically clean and acceptable for the city, public transport, cycling and walking. This strategy was gradually transferred to other, more distanced areas, by densifying the districts at the edge of the city, making them oriented at the mixed functions.

 

3. This transformation of the city was performed owing to the fact that the decision-making and planning processes, from the beginning and later on, took place with attraction of key political players and city community. Through application of various communication formats, the residents were involved in the discussion process in the similarly intense way as important stakeholders and representatives of business, other social groups, neighboring areas. Similarly important was the fact that along with this dialogue we managed to develop reliable management structure. Thus, for instance, the city development and transport planning competencies were more integrated, while previously dispersed competencies in the sphere of transit were united. This enabled centralized planning of the offers, networks and fares for the municipal and regional transit and made this domain client-oriented. We also purposely used the opportunities of local self-rule, obtained through the state decentralization, to perform, along with other cities, efficient lobbying activities for improvement of legal and regulatory framework conditions.

 

But there is still a lot to do. During the previous 15 years, the decisive strategic steps were made and a range of life-changing processes were launched, owing to which the today’s situation in Lviv is much better. However, to achieve these qualities throughout entire territory of the city and beyond, in the region, we still need a lot of efforts. We need to care about long-term preservation of these qualities. This is all the time supplemented by new challenges occurring due to continuous social change and emergence of new technologies. But the city has been extremely successful in this domain. While Lviv is still being realistic regarding attainability, environmental respect and never-changing support of urban community, it will be able to achieve increasingly better indicators of life quality, and, therefore, investment attractiveness and economic capacity, in the future as well.