The outgoing mayor of Belgrade, Aleksandar Šapić, recently stated that he is not personally to blame for the traffic jams in the city, but the problem is that tens of thousands of new vehicles are registered every year, which the Belgrade infrastructure cannot handle. The problem of congestion, he said, will be solved when the subway becomes operational.
A few days ago traffic almost stopped, with vehicles in Nemanjina, Balkanska, Resavska, Karađorđeva streets, Savski Trg and Slavija barely able to pass due to the protest of environmentalists in front of the Government of Serbia. Knez Miloš Street was also closed.
What’s worse, even when there are no protests, Belgrade’s traffic jams can be unbearable, commuting lasts too long and valuable time is wasted.
Traffic engineer and railway and city traffic expert, Karlo Polak, says that the main reason for traffic jams is the frequent misconception of the authorities and a large segment of Belgrade residents that the best mode of transport in densely populated areas is a private car.
“One passenger in a private car occupies 40-50 square metres of city space. Already, a taxi passenger takes up two times less space, a bus passenger and a cyclist seven times less, and a train, tram or subway passenger uses city space 15 times more sparingly,” says Polak.
He also points out that the appropriate traffic structure in Belgrade has not been adequately developed in the past decade, so this is one of the reasons why we are increasingly facing large traffic jams in the capital.
“In the last decade, the basic cycling and tram infrastructure have not been developed, the buses, which mostly share traffic lanes with private cars, are becoming increasingly slower, while the trolleybuses and the railway are being systematically destroyed,” Polak says.
Polak argues that traffic jams will not disappear even if the most expensive bridges, tunnels and city motorways are built.
“A very effective solution and profitable investments would be to reinstate railway in the centre of Belgrade, as before, have trams that have as few intersections with roads as possible and build good infrastructure for light two-wheelers,” Polak believes.
He adds that even the new subway will not reduce traffic jams, but it will make the movement of people significantly more efficient.
The construction of the subway has been planned for almost a hundred years, with the Serbian Finance Minister, Sinisa Mali, stating in late July that the first subway line should be completed in 2028.
According to Polak, instead of building the subway between the Sava and Danube river banks, the more efficient solution would be to build the subway line stretching from Mostarska Petlja to the Pančevo Bridge under Trg Republike with several underground stations.
He also thinks that the Belgrade government should build an appropriate infrastructure for electric bicycles and electric scooters.
This post is also available in: Italiano