Nicosia depends heavily on private motorized transport. Nicosia, the Capital of the Republic of Cyprus, faces serious traffic problems. For too long, the urban transport policy has been characterized by a one-sided focus on the private car. As a result, Cyprus has at present one of the highest car ownership ratios in the world (more than 600 cars per 1.000 inhabitants) and very low use of green transport. In the Greater Nicosia Urban Area, the share of trips by Public Transport is only 3% and cycling even lower, 2%. The continuous increase of traffic problems has serious effects on the city’s environment (air pollution, noise, etc.), road safety and the quality of life and as a result, the city’s attractiveness for business, shopping, and living is reduced.
The Integrated Mobility Master Plan (IMMP) is a Turning Point for Transport Policy. The Government of Cyprus and the Local Authorities have the ambition to ameliorate this situation, by increasing the share of Public Transport, Cycling and Walking and at the same time upgrading and completing the road network. The share of Public Transport Trips must be above 10% by the year 2020. In order to achieve these ambitious goals, a sustained effort must be made to implement a series of measures. Measures related to all Transport modes must be implemented, that complement and integrate with each other.
In order to meet the need for coordinated agreed actions/measures, the Integrated Mobility Master Plan (IMMP) for Nicosia was developed.
The IMMP is about achieving Sustainable Mobility, using Public Transport, Cycling and Walking as modes of transport that are best suited to the urban environment. Increasing densities in specific urban areas, in other words, a Polycentric Spatial Development, is an important precondition to achieve growth in sustainable modes of transport. The Local Plan for Nicosia includes such a Polycentric Spatial Development. Polycentric Nicosia needs excellent sustainable transport provisions that can compete with the private car.
The IMMP is the beginning of a long-term sustainable effort for improving mobility in the city rather than the end. There is an agreement amongst Stakeholders on the direction based on IMMP proposals, but all must put considerable effort to actually achieve this change and maybe more importantly- in cooperation with each other.
In order to enhance cooperation amongst all stakeholders, the Municipalities of the Greater Nicosia Area and the Government have agreed to establish a Transport Authority for the Greater Nicosia Area. In the Transport Authority, the stakeholders involved (Municipalities and Government Departments) will decide on all relevant planning issues. This will make policymaking much more effective.
An important step towards the implementation of the IMMP involving several levels of governance and stakeholders was the completion, for the first time in Cyprus, of the Streetscape Manual for Nicosia. This manual serves as a set of requirements and guidelines to be used to design streets to serve all users. It provides support for the Integrated Mobility Master Plan in redevelopment projects and surface transportation enhancement initiatives. It serves to integrate policies, programs, and urban design guidelines to meet the transportation needs of the community.
In order to conclude and deliver the manual, several meetings and workshops were held, in order to accomplish maximum approval from the stakeholders. To provide background documentation for the manual, the project team involved representatives from the following indicative list of stakeholders:
A network of multi-centre configuration i.e. a network of lines terminating in the centre of Nicosia and also at other peripheral centres of activities, namely in the area of the New Hospital, in the area of the Makarion Stadium, at Strovolos near the municipality building, in the area of the University of Cyprus and in the area of Intercollege.
The network can serve more passengers; can incorporate a tram network; will reduce the number of trips through the central area of Nicosia and will require less space within the bus terminal in the central area of Nicosia.
In parallel with the development of the public transport network several other mobility, aspects have been investigated aiming at an integrated plan. They can be materialised to the following points:
Park and Ride – The Multi-centre network is a good precondition for Park and Ride facilities.
Introduction of Trams – A tram lines network of three lines has been proposed forming a triangle of service by interconnecting the four major centres of the urban area
Enhancement of the Road System – A number of road infrastructure projects is being recognized as important and feasible within the 2020 horizon of the IMMP.
Organise/regulate Parking – The IMMP recognises very well the need for a parking policy. A complete policy will be developed as a follow up of the IMMP
Create a Comfortable and Safe Cycling Network – Bike network will be implemented throughout the city to promote alternative ways of mobility.
A Prefeasibility Study, investigating the possibility to include tram infrastructure in the IMMP has been carried out including a Financial and an Economic Analysis in order to be able to indicate the feasibility of the project from different perspectives.
The Financial Analysis considers all the cash flows, goods, and services including investment costs, operating costs and benefits earned from these activities. The return on invested capital is calculated.
The Economic Analysis assesses the project from the view of the society as a whole. This means that, in addition to the financial analysis, other effects are considered such as the effect on the labour market and the benefits in terms of time savings (e.g. because the project contributes to the efficiency of the transport system).
Only an integrated master plan with the contribution of all the competent authorities could achieve Nicosia’s strategy for sustainable mobility development by 2020. The establishment of a Transport Authority for the Greater Nicosia Area is necessary to effectively address local and regional problems and at the same time to implement an integrated master plan without failures and gaps.
Multilevel cooperation ensures the future development of the master plan. When all the competent authorities are actively involved during the design and the development of the master plan, they feel part of the project and more comfortable supporting its political or technical approval for the implementation. The actions of the project could be also distributed and assigned to the involved authorities according to their expertise or their capacity for implementation and monitoring.
The role of local authorities in the successful planning and implementation of the master plan project is crucial. The individual local strategies and plans need to be combined and the project examined holistically. This approach needs to be followed especially for mobility and transportation actions. The inputs on special local needs for all the involved authorities and/or local groups are essential in order for the whole master plan to meet its objectives. When a master plan is designed and promoted centrally by the government could not easily have the acceptance of the affected local authorities and time is wasted on negotiations, discussions, and adaptations.
A deep feasibility study is required prior to the decision for the final strategy of the project. The results and the recommendations of the study will assist the decision-makers to approve the implementation of the project by prioritizing the actions with financial, energy, environmental and social indicators.
The project was built on the idea that cooperation between different levels of governance of islands (i.e. National, regional, local) can have a key role to play towards reaching the 20-20-20 EU goals in the area of energy and climate change.
The role of good multilevel cooperation is identified as one of the key points for consistent (between different levels) and eventually effective sustainable energy planning at the local level. Especially, when it comes to island communities this role proves to be crucial for the balanced development of the island, the resources management, the economic growth and the quality of life for the citizens and visitors.
SMILEGOV, based on success stories and close European cooperation will strengthen local capacity and work towards the improvement of multilevel cooperation in European islands aiming to facilitate the implementation of their sustainable energy action plans towards the EU 20-20-20 goals.
As for those islands that have not yet been through the sustainable energy planning process towards 2020, capacity building will be offered with the aim to support the island structures and enable them to develop their own planning and energy projects.
For the support of this process, clusters of European islands will be set up in the largest part of the European insular regions: The Atlantic (Canaries, Scotland), the Baltic Sea (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia) and the Mediterranean (Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Greece). The formation of clusters of islands and the exchange of knowledge at the local and regional level, the identification of Strategic Guidelines for overcoming existing barriers through the assistance of advanced islands, as well as the process of learning from the experience of models areas (“learning from the experts”) will be the guide for the exploration of this path.