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Tallinn doubtful over decision allowing cyclists on bus lanes

A sign in a bus lane which shows cyclists can ride in the lane,
A sign in a bus lane which shows cyclists can ride in the lane, Source: ERR

Cyclists have been able to use bus lanes in central Tallinn since June, but the low take-up on the change has led city government to consider if reverting to the old ways is reasonable come fall.

Deniss Boroditš, chairman of the board at Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS (TLT), said he was not included in the discussions over allowing cyclists on bus lanes.

Boroditš told ERR he believes city government conducted sufficient analysis before making the decision, but noted that the change was not overly positive for public transportation.

The head of TLT said: "The more we allow different road users on bus lanes, the more traffic safety decreases. And certainly, increased attention has to be turned to drivers, it adds pressure to them. But I understand that Tallinn wants to encourage bicycles, giving them additional privileges. I understand the idea in that sense but if you're asking whether or not traffic safety increases or decreases, then it definitely decreases."

Talvo Rüütelmaa, Deputy Head of the Tallinn Transport Board, said Estonia puiestee, a main central Tallinn thoroughfare, does not have sufficient space to build a cycle lane, which led to the compromise of bringing bicycles and public transportation to the one lane.

Rüütelmaa added that cyclists are not too eager to ride alongside buses, prefering Liivalaia tänav instead.

He stressed that conclusions on if the change should be reverted, this can be done in the fall.

Rüütelmaa explained: "Current monitoring certainly raises that question. It's possible that the common use has to be ended at some point but it is too early too call. Some people are still vacationing outside the city. We can return to this topic in the fall, when bicycle season is in full swing and then assess.

"We will certainly get feedback from cyclists and different associations and unions. All of that needs to be analyzed and conclusions have to be drawn. I would not exclude the possibility that the situation would be changed again."

Tõnis Savi, one of the creators of Tallinn's bicycle strategy plan, said the city government's argument of lack of space is not a sufficient one.

Savi said car traffic has become such a priority that no sacrifices get made on their behalf, but cyclists cannot feel safe next to a 10-ton bus which is moving faster than they are.

He did note however that as a symbolic gesture, common lanes are useful, and losing them would be regrettable.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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