As part of its contribution to the enlarged EU, Switzerland is implementing a partnership programme in Croatia. The programme supports various civil society organisations in activities relating to the environment, culture and social affairs. Cooperation between Swiss and Croatian institutions means there is a direct exchange of knowledge and experience which benefits both sides and strengthens bilateral relations between the two countries. Currently, nine such projects are financed by the partnership programme, two of which concern road safety in Croatia and are aimed primarily at vulnerable road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.
Visit to Bern
A visit to Bern was organised in October 2019 on the initiative of Croatian partner organisation ODRAZ in order to benefit first-hand from Swiss expertise in road safety for non-motorised transport. During its visit, the Croatian delegation was accompanied by Swiss partner organisation Pro Velo. For the first two days, the Croatian participants were given an insight into cantonal transport projects (Department of Planning in Bern) and road safety research (University of Lausanne). The third day was devoted to the implementation of transport projects at urban and national levels.
Cycling in the city
In the morning of the third day, after a presentation by the city's Transport Planning Division, a tour of Bern was organised, with the option of doing it on foot or by e-bike. During the tour, critical points for non-motorised transport were visited and the corresponding solutions implemented by the City of Bern authorities were discussed. Widening of cycle paths, the separation of motorised and non-motorised transport, and the creation of bicycle and pedestrian priority areas raised questions among the Croatian participants. Could these models be transposed to Croatia? How could they be financed? These issues will be addressed imminently in greater depth in Croatia.
Back to Croatia with a wealth of new knowledge
The study trip concluded with a visit to the Federal Roads Office and a reception hosted by the Croatian ambassador, who underscored the great benefits of Switzerland's contribution in her speech. The Croatian delegation returned home the following day, brimming with new ideas. It is now for the Croatian partners to evaluate what they have seen, whether it might be feasible to carry over some of the approaches used in Bern and what might actually be implemented in concrete terms. With a budget of around CHF 300,000 (including the 15% contribution from the Croatian government), Switzerland is supporting a valuable initiative that aims to make cycling safer in Croatia's cities in the future. A further CHF 300,000 is earmarked for a second road safety project, which is being supported by Swiss foundation CareCross. This second project concerns road safety for the most vulnerable road users – children and the elderly.