Dedicated lanes — solution for decongesting urban traffic

As long as public transport will be second preferred solution for meeting the mobility needs of residents, Chisinau will continue to face major problems in terms of traffic jams.

UNDP in Moldova
Jul 16 · 5 min read

Traffic jams in Chisinau are a challenge for both local authorities and residents of the capital city. The development of public transport is too slow and fails to meet demand.

Many of the capital’s residents opt to having a personal car, so as to ensure their mobility. The number of cars increases substantially and this causes other problems for the city: lack of parking spaces, infernal traffic jams, blocked streets on a lane due to illegal parking etc. Under these conditions, drivers, including a part of the political class, are advocating for the expansion of the road infrastructure. In the central area, there are limited possibilities to expand the infrastructure.

Okay, let’s just say we can expand the infrastructure in some places. However, the widening of boulevards and the construction of new streets would cause an even greater increase in the number of private cars. And by no means will it solve the traffic problem.
That is why it is important to identify and implement policies that would increase the number of public transport users and reduce the number of personal vehicles circulating on the streets of Chisinau. As long as public transport will be the second preferred solution for meeting the mobility needs of residents, Chisinau will continue to face major problems in terms of traffic jams.

The most effective interventions to reduce the number of private vehicles in cities are:

  • additional charging for the transit of a sector (with the largest congestion);
  • providing an increasing priority for the promotion of public transport.

The first solution is an unpopular reform. The second seems more appropriate for Chisinau. The UNDP project “Sustainable Green Cities” has developed, at the request of the Chisinau City Hall, an action plan, which contains a map of the streets on which the dedicated lanes to public transport should be inserted. The document was prepared by a group of national and international experts, contracted with financial support of the Russian Federation.

The first delimitation was made on A. Pushkin Street, on the segment between A. Mateevici and C. Tanase streets.

A dedicated lane is designed to give priority to public transport, separating them from other modes of traffic and allowing them to move through crowded areas faster and more efficiently.

The separation of buses and trolleybuses from other vehicles on dedicated lanes protects them from traffic congestion and delays and improves the reliability of services. Smoother driving also saves fuel and makes buses a more attractive way to travel during peak hours.

In Chisinau, public transport runs together with general traffic. The mixed mode of operation significantly reduces the attractiveness of public transport, given that transport units are stuck in traffic jams, especially in central areas. Thus, public transport can be described as unsafe, slow, inadequate, overcrowded and unprepared to meet the demand from residents.
In 2018, public transport was monitored to establish the average speed of trolleybuses: the lowest speed is recorded during peak hours (between 7: 00–10: 00 and 16: 00–19: 00), and highest speed on weekends. Travel speed on holidays is 23% higher than during peak hours on weekdays.

The implementation of the permanent lane is the solution with the most long-term advantages. The main element of the success of this option is the physical separation of the public transport lane and the general traffic lanes. Here are the benefits:

· It will allow the increase of the average speed of public transport;

· It will reduce the travel time by at least 5 minutes on each segment where a dedicated lane will be arranged;

· It will produce tangible results and encourage citizens to use public transport;

· Will free sidewalks from parked vehicles.

  1. It is allowed to cross the lane to turn right, enter and exit the yard, but it is FORBIDDEN to drive on the lane.
  2. It is FORBIDDEN to stop, park or park on the dedicated lane with the sign “No parking” (3.31).
  3. It is FORBIDDEN by the sign “Forbidden stop” (3.31) stopping, parking or parking on the extreme lane is in certain parts, where Pushkin Street is very narrow. Pay attention to the signs 3.31.
  4. Stopping for the embarkation/disembarkation of passengers must be carried out on the left lane, preferably closer to pedestrian crossings, in order to prevent illegal crossing of the street by pedestrians. The same goes for taxi units, which are waiting for passengers.
  5. Parking on A. Pushkin Street is allowed only in specially arranged places, at the expense of the sidewalk. Any other type of parking on A. Pushkin Street, including at the entrance to the courtyard, is irregular and subject to a fine.
  6. For the first time in Chisinau, the road lane is intended for cyclists. We encourage cyclists to use it, however we appeal to this category of traffic participants, to show maximum caution. Both trolleybus drivers and motorists need time to get used to the presence of cyclists on the road.
  7. The police patrols will ensure the patrolling of the street and will apply fines for violating the parking regime on Pushkin Street.

The next street on which the dedicated lane marking is to be applied is Mitropolit G. Bănulescu-Bodoni.

Those who managed to walk on Pushkin Street after rehabilitating the sidewalks and applying the dedicated bus lane find that it has become accessible for pedestrians, cyclists and much more convenient for public transport.

And now let’s imagine that this is how all the streets in Chisinau can become. This city is primarily about people, not cars.

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