Since 2017, when the last local government elections took place and the Tallinn Bicycle Strategy to 2027 was established, the city government hasn't realized any of the activities planned in the plan in the way they were supposed to, the authors of the strategy find. 'Money is being spent, but there are no results,' the authors say.
The strategy has been composed by sustainable transport and environment expert Mari Jüssi, mobility consultant and road engineer Marek Rannala and architects and city planners Raul Kalvo and Tõnis Savi in cooperation with the city authorities and was approved by Tallinn.
The authors of the strategy told ERR that the most important point of it was creating a safe, comfortable and coherent network of bicycle lanes, which would encourage the use of bicycles for everyday moving.
"According to the strategy, it should be started in the center city and then moved towards to districts of the city via the networks," Marek Rannala said.
This hasn't been the case, they say. A major center city project, the Tallinn Main Street Project was put on hold due to the city government wanting to first work on the bus transport not being disturbed too much by the bike lanes.
Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Andrei Novikov (Center) told ERR that the project has been put on hold and has been adjusted to give more space to buses.
"I am sure the main street project will come to life. Whether it will happen anytime soon or later, but our priority number one is ensuring the buses at least one capacity on Pärnu Road," Novikov said.
Tallinn's priority is public transport, followed by pedestrians
Rannala said the activities of the city government are chaotic and doesn't correspond to the strategy: no bicycle lane designers have been trained, no bicycle audits have been prepared and the money is going to the edges of the city to develop a health trail network, which does not serve the goals of the strategy at all.
Novikov says the claim isn't fully right and people need to understand that establishing bicycle lanes in the center city is the most difficult and before huge road constructions, temporary solutions are used to train people to use bicycles more.
Rannala, however, doesn't agree. "Saying that bicycle lanes can only be made at the expense of green space shows the unwillingness to deal with the issue and perform the strategical goals promised to the public," he noted.
Less room for cars?
It is written in the strategy that in a situation where there is no space to divide mobility modes, a way of safe coexistence has to be found by changing terms for using cars if necessary.
Novikov doesn't support the approach of doing bad to some for the goal of doing good for others. But the trend of having less and less space for cars is inevitable.
"The life of car drivers is not going to get any easier. The situation has been problematic and outdated for bikers. The city, however, has to be balanced when creating the solutions. The trend is single-valued- more space for non-motorized road users-some will win and some will lose," Novikov said.
The year 2027
According to the strategy, the goals should be finished by 2027 when a new strategy will be formed.
Despite the criticism, Novikov is sure that the goals will be met, but with little concessions.
The authors of the strategy also believe that it's possible to fulfill the action plan if the city has the willingness.
Some of the original goals from the Tallinn Bicycle Strategy Action Plan
2019: construction of a core network of bicycle lanes in the city center.
2020: construction of a core network of bicycle lanes in the main directions of the districts.
2021: construction of the main bicycle network and health trail network in the Mustamäe/Kadaka area.
2022: Construction of the main bicycle network and health trail network in Lasnamäe.
2023: Construction of the main bicycle network and health trail network in Lasnamäe.
2024: Construction of the main bicycle network and health trail network in the North Tallinn/Kristiine area.
2025: construction of the main bicycle network and health trail network in the Nõmme/Õismäe areas.
2026: construction of the main bicycle network and health trail network in Pirita.
2027: construction of a core network of bicycle lanes and a health trail network in the southern part of the city center.
2027: Developing a new strategy.
Editor: Roberta Vaino