Tallinn officials defended the new restrictions on cars in the city center as modern and European while opponents said the way recent closures were decided and implemented was anything but.
Deputy Mayor Taavi Aas said that without traffic reduction measures, Tallinn would soon grind to a halt. He said priority lanes for public transport, mergers of public transport companies and transition to free public transport were "critical."
Aas said the experience of other capitals and larger cities showed that there was not room in the city center for everyone with a car. "If the opposition still doesn't understand what the aim of the public transport lane development is, I recommend these representatives to visit any large city and see for themselves that the city centers are often made pedestrian-only areas and that public transport has been given preferential status on the adjoining streets," said Aas in Postimees.
"It is misleading to say that it will take more time to get to work following the creation of the public transport lane on Narva maantee," he said, adding that after the lane had been marked, it had taken him 22 minutes to get from the outskirts, about 10 kilometers away, to the center by automobile.
But one traffic expert said that chronic traffic jams will start in autumn, when people return from holidays and will insist on continuing to making the morning drive in.
Marek Rannala, a Ph.D. student at the Tallinn University of Technology Logistics Institute, said in Eesti Päevaleht: "It does seem that we will soon be unable to distinguish rush hour from non-rush hour on certain directions."
He said more analysis should have been done before the recent street closures. "It would be good to read the pros and cons from a study or memo before the decisions, but this is not the custom in Tallinn," he said.
Meanwhile, rescue officials also joined those critical of the closure of one end of a busy street in Old Town with concrete installations. Teet Pille of the Rescue Board said that the "pigeons" at the end of Väike-Karja would reduce the service's operational response.
"It can be see only negatively as our operational readiness in Old Town Tallinn is disrupted by this," he said on ETV.
A police official for the Northern Prefecture, Elari Kasemets, told ETV that such decisions were ordinarily discussed in a traffic committee where police are represented. This was not done in the case of the "overnight" closures, he said.