Tartu's 'Car-Free Avenue' sees 18,000 visits in first two weeks

"Car-Free Avenue" (Autovabaduse puiestee) in Tartu. Source: Mana Kaasik

Approximately 18,000 visits have been made to Tartu's "Car-Free Avenue" since it launched at the start of July. No problems have occurred despite last week's wet weather.

"Car-Free Avenue" (Autovabaduse puiestee) is located on Tartu's Vabaduse puiestee which runs along the Emajõi river.

The road is closed to traffic so residents of Tartu and visitors have somewhere to meet and spend time in the heart of the city. The open space was launched on July 3 and includes a playground, swing maze, food trucks and performance space.

Marleen Viidul, head of the department of culture at Tartu City Government, told ERR News visitor numbers - of both locals and tourists - confirm the concept has been popular.

"The first weekend brought over 10,000 visitors. During the last weekend, we had about 8,000 visitors, even though the weather was stormy and quite wet," she said.

Car-free Avenue (Autovabaduse puiestee) opened in Tartu on July 3. Source: Mana Kaasik

"What we love the most is the fact that people seem to come regularly and that is a proof that the area is seen as a great place to work, meet friends and spend time with family."

On Friday, a concert and film screening was held on the street. On Saturday there were several workshops and musicians and dancers performed.

She said so far there have not been any "major problems": "On Saturday the wind challenged us but nothing was broken and people did not mind the stormy weather and enjoyed themselves."

"Car-free Avenue" will take place in Tartu until August 2 and traffic is diverted until then.

A map of the road changes which will be in place in Tartu during 'Car-Free Avenue'. Source: Tartu Linnavalitsus

If the concept is well received by city residents and visitors, it is hoped that it will continue in subsequent years. 

The city government, the Tartu 2024 Foundation, entrepreneurs and many of the city's cultural and educational institutions are worked closely together to create the space.

In June city Mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform) explained since many expected events will be cancelled due to the spread of coronavirus this summer, the city government has wanted to offer residents of Tartu the opportunity to gather in the heart of the city and enjoy summer and each other's company.

'After the beginning of a difficult year, we want to offer people joy and a pleasant urban space. We are creating an environment to help bring more people to the city centre, and this revitalization of the area will help bring visitors to the cafes and restaurants located there', said Klaas. 

Tartu has a population of approximately 93,000.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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