Q&A with the experts – Dragan Kabić (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Dec 6, 2021

From Bosnia and Herzegovina we have Dragan Kabić to describe the situation with transport system in his country. Dragan is a very passionate cyclist and coordinator of the transport program in Center for Environment, environmental citizens association from Banja Luka.

  1. Can you please describe the connection between air pollution and transport in the country, specifically in the capital?

First of all, serious research at the state level related to the share of pollution of various pollutants does not exist. The European share of air pollution from transport is almost a quarter of the total. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, this share is probably somewhat lower, due to low standards in the prevention of air pollution in industry, but also a higher share of individual home heating fireplaces. Also, it should be noted that the share of pollution from road traffic is about 70 percent of the total transport related air pollution. Taking this into account, and the state of other modes of transport in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we can comfortably conclude that the share of pollution from road traffic is much higher.


  1. What is the situation with road safety and how safe is to be a pedestrian or cyclist in your city (Banja Luka)?

Unfortunately, Bosnia and Herzegovina belongs to the group of countries with poorer numbers when it comes to traffic safety. The World Health Organization claims that 93% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately 60% of the world’s vehicles, and Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of those countries.

Being a pedestrian or cyclist is relatively risky. Especially on roads outside urban areas. However, it is statistically difficult to talk about risk modal share without data that would compare the type of vehicle per kilometer traveled per traffic accident. We do not have such data on any administrative level.

Unfortunately, Banja Luka is among the better cities in terms of the possibility of using bicycles. I say unfortunately, since it is far from a quality city, but other cities are in an even worse position. What is even more horrifying is the fact that road design is still being done, both in Banja Luka and in other cities, in a way to primatizes motor traffic. In addition, it happens more and more often that even when specific bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is built, some very important things are neglected, such as proper installation of manholes, leveling of curbs, connection of that infrastructure, integration into the existing traffic system etc.


  1. How is the non-motorized transportation developing? What is the condition of the railway system?

The development of non-motorized traffic in Bosnia and Herzegovina is slow and sporadic. Often such development is initiated exclusively by projects in which foreign donors support local authorities, so these do something that has more of a makeup role than a function. Understanding of the importance and functionality of non-motorized traffic at any level of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina does not exist.

Regarding railway traffic, the condition of lines and trains is very bad. So we are in a situation where the line that connects the two largest cities, Banja Luka and Sarajevo, no longer exists. Although the railway network is provided exclusively as a single half-rounded line, that line itself actually provides the possibility of relieving passenger traffic to a certain extent. However, the political and administrative obstacles, mafia within public companies and negligence that have brought both of these railway companies to a hopeless financial situation, do not promise a happier outcome for the benefit of citizens, society and nature.


  1. What is your position regarding the electrification of transportation?

Electrification of transport has positive effects only in the case of electrification of public transport. Electrification of passenger cars by which the auto industry lobby strikes around every corner, is no solution. Especially if we talk from the domain of space and spatial planning. The car, whatever fuel it uses, is spatially speaking – the most inefficient means of transport ever. The case is similar when we take into account the fact that batteries are big polluters, but also that Bosnia and Herzegovina gets about 70% of electricity from coal.

Forms of electrically driven micromobility may have some potential for positive effects. But here, too, it should be taken into account that it has been statistically shown that e-scooters have made more negative changes in the modal share. More people are switching from walking, using bicycles and using public transport to using e-scooters, than from using cars to using e-scooters.


  1. Please share positive examples, initiative and activities in your country!

There are very few positive examples, but we are proud of them. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a total of two organizations with very limited capacities are actually working on the issue of urban mobility – Giro di Sarajevo and Center for Environment. Many initiatives have been launched from these organizations, and some of the successful ones are the many bicycle parking lots installed in Sarajevo and Banja Luka. Also, Center managed to get rid of an article of the Law on traffic safety that obliged cyclists to wear helmets, and save certain public spaces from a car invasion.

Furthermore, we are proud of the establishment of the citizens’ initiative Banja Luka Critical Mass. It is currently the only critical mass in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been holding joint monthly rides for four years. Of course, there are many more publications, videos and day and night lobbying, but these are some of the more recognizable things.

The primary thing we are currently trying to initiate are the amendments to the Rulebook on traffic signalization and the Guidelines on the road design, construction, maintenance and supervision, in order to disable the excuses of local authorities that they cannot build a certain infrastructure, ie its elements, which do not exist in the Rulebook and Guidelines.