Pedestrian route survey reveals best spots and problems in city centre

Uutta Helsinkiä
Photo: Laura Oja

The City of Helsinki has surveyed the views of Helsinki residents about the current conditions for walking in the city centre and targets for development. An open survey was conducted with the help of an online interactive map in the summer of 2018. Feedback was provided by 1,600 respondents, who posted more than 8,700 comments on the map.

According to the survey, journeys are made on foot for purposes of work, studies and errands largely in the Helsinki city centre: in the vicinity of the Central Railway Station and, from there, to the direction of Kamppi and Hakaniemi as well as to Mannerheimintie and Aleksanterinkatu. Respondents cited the speed of reaching their destinations, good flow of movement, practicality and ease of movement as their reasons to choose to walk when moving on these routes.

Recreational pedestrian routes, used for reasons of spending time outdoors, fitness and relaxation, can largely be found at the seaside, in the Töölönlahti area and on the Esplanades. Respondents chose their recreational routes mainly on the basis of the appeal of the environment, such as the greenness of the area and attractive buildings.

On top of the wish list are reduced car volumes and improved traffic safety

Close to 900 of the comments were proposals for improvements in routes and route sections. Most of the proposals were for the Railway Station entrance area and Kaivokatu; Kaisaniemenkatu and the Pitkäsilta bridge; the southern section of Mannerheimintie; Aleksanterinkatu; the vicinity of the Market Square; and Iso Roobertinkatu. Most of the proposals were related to reductions in car volumes and improvements in traffic safety, for example, when crossing streets. Respondents also proposed new trees and bushes to increase the appeal of neighbourhoods.

Respondents could also mark on the map their proposals for completely new pedestrian routes and pedestrian streets. Proposed new pedestrian connections included a connection over the railway yard and one between Kaisaniemi and Siltasaari. Proposed new pedestrian streets included the southern section of Mannerheimintie, Pohjoisesplanadi and Kaivokatu.

The survey also produced hundreds of comments on city centre development projects, which are either in the planning stage or under construction, as well as on completed city centre projects.

Material utilized in city centre planning projects

The information gathered with the survey has been utilized in investigations on a potential marked expansion of the pedestrian city centre and on the requirements for an underground feeder street. In the future, the information will be utilized in the preparation of the Helsinki walking promotion programme and in other connections.