SUMPs in Latvia
Development of new plans for an improved traffic safety and a more sustainable mobility has started. Traffic and transport have experienced a radical increase in Latvia during the past 15 years, and previously, transport and mobility have not been consequently planned. This has resulted in e.g. a high level of road accidents, one of the highest in Europe, and an increased level of pollution. As welfare is rising, the amount of cars per person is expected to rise to the level of other European countries (500 cars / 1000 persons in the coming 20-30 years) which makes consecutive planning even more important in the future. Bigger cities, such as Riga, have made up long-term spatial plans concentrating on making traffic and transport more organized and safe, but no national guidance on SUMPs has yet been developed.
In Latvia, actions have been made to enhance the traffic safety and to achieve more sustainable mobility in the country. However, the process is still in its infancy and no legal requirements for comprehensive mobility planning as SUMP exist. A strong increase in the volume of traffic and transport together with several problems concerning traffic infrastructure are the main reasons for the high number of road accidents and increasing pollution in Latvia. The number of the privately owned cars will probably rise in the future, which will emphasise the importance of the planning. When it comes to financing mechanisms of the planning process, operational programmes and budgets of regional governments are the main financier of SUMP preparation.
Especially Riga, the capital and the only major city of Latvia, and the surrounding area of Pieriga, are facing several problems related to traffic and mobility. There is a lot of room for improvement in public transport, road and rail networks and in providing better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. In response to these challenges, the Ministry of Transport started the process of making a mobility plan for the capital in 2008 by developing a concept for design of that plan. The process went forward as a co-operation project between Latvian Ministry of Transport, a consultancy and local transport companies. The report “Mobility Plan and Action program for Riga and Pieriga” was published in 2010. The Comprehensive Plan of Riga City 2006-2018 is the main document controlling the land use policy in the area, and land-use plans are required for municipalities and there are also regional emission reduction programmes going on. There is still a long way to go to achieve sustainability objectives in Latvia, even though the Ministry of Transport is promoting sustainable transport planning. One promising step forward is that a new transport policy already includes the topic of SUMPs.
Source: Endurance project