The Tallinn branch of one of Estonia's five major political parties is to hold a bike tour Friday afternoon, aimed at highlighting the issue of safety for cyclists in the capital.
The tour, organized by the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) starts at 4 p.m. Friday, in time for rush hour – the most dangerous period – from Vabaduse väljak in central Tallinn, and is being led by MP and Tallinn SDE branch leader Raimond Kaljulaid.
The route and timing should take in several hot spots which Kaljulaid said cannot be underestimated in terms of their danger to unwary cyclists and others, as highlighted in a recent TV show. He also noted that bicycles take a low priority with city planners.
"Despite the ambition of Tallinn becoming the European Green Capital and the resonating slogans, the reality is that the city has been prioritizing car traffic [over bikes and public transport] for years," Kaljulaid said.
"There are more car parks than parks in Tallinn, cyclists and pedestrians are left behind. Together with cyclists who move around in the city on a daily basis, we want to point out the hazardous places and draw attention to the fact that Tallinn needs a real turn in its urban traffic," he added.
While organizers and participants will do their utmost to ensure they do not hinder the flow of the rush hour traffic, as many people either hurry home for the weekend or out of the capital altogether, the aim is also to flag the fact that a lack of cycle lanes and other safety features can also harm drivers too, Kaljulaid said.
The route will run from Vabaduse väljak to a major junction in the Kristiine district of the city, then via three major thoroughfares – Suur-Ameerika, Liivalaia and Pronksi – ending at the Linnahall, near the harbor.
Points at which cycle lanes peter out unexpectedly and routes can encounter high curbstones and other obstacles are numerous (there are 22 of them, organizers say – following a survey actually commissioned by the city's government but whose results seem to have been deprioritized.
Kaljulaid said that his party would contribute €100 million from city funds to make Tallinn more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, within a four-year period after next autumn's local elections. One source of funds could potentially be a car drivers' toll, should SDE get to implement their plan.
Editor: Andrew Whyte