Tallinn was a finalist for the European Green Capital 2022 this year, but Grenoble in France won the title. Member of the parliament and member of Tallinn City Council, Raimond Kaljulaid (SDE), writes that Tallinn didn't receive the title for one simple reason.
It is not possible to present a city as green when it is not comfortable and safe to move by foot, by public transport or bicycle there - instead, more and more resources are contributed to developing car transportation.
I will repeat what actually needs to be done for Tallinn to become the Green Capital. Not to win the title, but for the people that are living in the city.
And I emphasize: these are not the demands for the current city government. The current city government will never realize these things. Never. We will (the Social Democrats - ed.). The city's opposition needs to. The new city government will start to.
Cars can stay but usage needs to decrease. The growth of car ownership must be stopped and then reversed.
1. Let's stop building new multilevel intersections, which cost tens of millions of euros and have zero value. Instead, let's repair our streets, especially small streets, which are used by people daily. Let's repair them so the streets would be comfortable, safe for everybody - children, adults but also the elderly and people with reduced mobility.
2. Let's create a new proper and safe bicycle bath system where bicycles and electric scooters are separate from cars and pedestrians. Lines drawn on the asphalt don't help to ensure safety. Electric scooters and other similar solutions have come to stay. Now let's build a city where there is room for everybody.
3. Let's not force developers to build new parking lots. More parking lots and wider roads equal more cars. Instead, let's support creating bicycle parking lots near home and schools.
4. Public transportation management needs to be fixed. When the head of the organization earns six times the salary of state officials for organizing the mayor's election campaign or god knows for what, things are not right. Proper management, professional operating is the only way.
5. Tallinn needs to be very clear in telling the state that in one way or another, cars should be taxed in the future. Whether through car tax, road use tax, establishing an entrance tax or through another way.
And the last thing: the city needs to be led by people who themselves are using different forms of mobility. It should be a part of the organization's culture. Heads of the city should use buses, bicycles or walk to work. They need to see and experience what is wrong. Only then will something change.
In reality, the changes are inevitable. Next autumn and local elections will definitely bring them along. The time of the power of the Center Party will definitely be over. But this doesn't mean that the opposition can sleep. On the contrary. The opposition has to work twice as hard, twice as smart and be twice as good.
Editor: Roberta Vaino