World Carfree Day on September 22 led many to reflect on the good, bad and ugly of getting around Tallinn on two wheels.
The good is that bike use has doubled in just a few years, uudised.err.ee reported, though volumes are still about ten times smaller than in the Nordics.
Sustainable Estonia Institute senior expert Mari Jüssi, a bike commuter herself for the last 15 years, said the change has been visible over a short space of time.
"It seems that precisely city center bike use has grown in spite of the fact that the city of Tallinn has not invested into bike paths. Quite a lot has been done for recreational cyclists, such as the Rocca al Mare promenade, the very good bike path from Nõmme to Õismäe district which will not, however, really attract daily work commuters," she said. She emphasized that no change toward a more coherent network had occurred in the downtown area.
A recent study conducted by Tallinn University of Technology showed that bicyclists in Tallinn consider the the capital's biggest problems in the field to be a shortage of bicycle racks and other parking facilities and the discontinuous nature of the bicycle path network.
Professor Dago Antov told ERR radio that the first problem also included difficulties keeping bicycles at home for those dwelling in large apartment projects.
As for the bike path network, Antov said: "The segments that have been built are generally good and appreciated, but often when going from point A to point B there'll be a stretch of non-existent bike lane where the cyclist has to travel in quite dangerous conditions."
The professor added that not all considered hazardousness to be a problem, and that it tended to be the main concern for less frequent users of two-wheeled transport.
Antov did say that bicyclists today have a higher profile in traffic than they used to.
"It seems to me that lately the city authorities have started paying a bit more attention to bicycle traffic. That is reason for hope but it's clear that it isn't possible to create a proper bicycle path network in a short time. It requires construction, changes in traffic management principles and an understanding of the importance of bike transport. Not just from the city fathers but from all road users."