Major cities like Copenhagen, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Paris aren't the only ones increasingly promoting cycling downtown to the detriment of vehicle traffic. After investing in cycling infrastructure in recent years, the city of Novi Sad in Serbia is now encouraging residents to buy bikes.
With already nearly 40,000 cyclists, for an estimated population of 290,000, Novi Sad is on its way to becoming the first city in Serbia to offer residents incentives to buy bikes. The aim is to subsidize bike buying with a campaign similar to those already underway in certain neighboring countries, like Montenegro and North Macedonia. It'll be a first in Serbia.
The Serbian environmental protection agency is supporting this initiative, highlighting the need to increase the number of cyclists on the streets of Novi Sad to cut pollution and improve air quality. As well as introducing incentives for buying bikes, the city has already promised more new cycle paths. In parallel, certain older cars will be banned from driving in the city center.
Historically, Novi Sad is recognized as Serbia's leading cycling city. It was, in fact, home to a popular velodrome at the end of the 19th century. Later, it was one of the first cities in Serbia to build a network of cycle paths, which now span over 100 kilometers. The city was also the first in Serbia to get bicycle traffic lights and free self-service bike repair stations. Its first rent-a-bike scheme was introduced around a decade ago, and since 2011, cyclists can travel through pedestrian zones of the city. All this progress makes Novi Sad an example to watch for cycling fans throughout the country.