Cycling is becoming an increasingly popular mode of transport in Helsinki, but the change is slower than planned.
The number of bicycle journeys made at the borders of Helsinki’s inner city area have been on the rise for several years. Last year, more than one million bike trips were made along the country’s busiest cycling route, Lauttasaari Bridge, as well as through Hesperia Park near the National Opera and across Pitkäsilta Bridge.
However, while the number of cycling journeys has increased, the proportion cycling accounts for of all transport has not increased as planned. Helsinki’s goal is to have 15 per cent of all journeys made by bike by 2020. Last year, the figure was 11 per cent.
‘The promotion of cycling is not an end in itself; rather, it is a means of creating a safer, more comfortable and more functional urban environment. The more people travel on foot, by bicycle or by public transport, rather than by car, the greater the number of people who can efficiently move about the city,’ says the City’s cycling coordinator Reetta Keisanen.
In order to increase the proportion cycling makes up of all transport, Helsinki will build new, high-quality cycle routes. Over the next few years, the main focus will be on the inner city, because the bike routes’ connectivity issues are most notable there.
The new inner-city bike route network is intended to be finished by the end of 2025. This year, cycle routes will be constructed on Mechelininkatu, Tukholmankatu and Paciuksenkatu. The renovation work on Hämeentie began this spring, and the new cycle routes there will be completed next year.
In addition to the routes in the inner city, the construction of the Baana network will continue. The building projects for the Baana underpass underneath the Central Railway Station’s tracks, Viikinbaana and Itäbaana in Kulosaari will begin next year. The planned length of the finished Baana network is 130 kilometres. So far, six kilometres of Baana routes, i.e. less than one kilometre per year, have been completed since 2012.
When it comes to factors that affect the cycling experience amongst the City’s residents, exceptional cycling route arrangements during roadworks cause the most dissatisfaction. On the other hand, residents are increasingly satisfied with the combination of cycling and public transport. A total of 94 per cent of Helsinki’s residents support to the promotion of cycling.
‘For many Helsinkians, bicycles are a common way of getting from point A to point B. During the seasons without snow, more than half of the City’s residents ride a bicycle weekly,’ Reetta Keisanen says.
In May, the City of Helsinki published a leaflet called Bicycle Account 2019. This document discusses the development of bike travel, resident opinions regarding cycling, cycling plans and construction projects. Printed versions are available at the central library Oodi’s urban environment participatory facility Brygga, among other places.