Estonia's current transport policy needs changes if the state wants to fulfill the objectives in its development plan for transport and mobility for 2035 as the current situation often makes owning a car the sole solution for many people, according to a report by the Estonian Foresight Center.
"Meeting the objectives set in the development plan for Estonian transport and mobility for 2035 requires great changes in people's mobility," Foresight Center expert Uku Varblane said.
"In Harju County, for instance, commuters number 120,000 per day and in terms of environmental impact, there are great differences between people using a personal car, public transport or a bicycle," Varblane said.
The issue of sustainability is most pressing in the Estonian transport system in Tallinn and Harju County as close to 50 percent of the total distance covered by Estonian vehicles is traveled in this region.
Harju County is home to 45 percent of the Estonian population and the county's transport system generates close to half of the total environmental impact of road transport in the state.
While owning and using a car is often the sole solution in rural areas due to current and earlier transport policies, densely populated areas offer broader opportunities for rendering the current car-centered approach more sustainable, Varblane said.
"If convenient car use is prioritized in city planning, it increases the use of personal cars in the transport system and that, in turn, boosts the need to take personal cars into even greater consideration in city planning," he said.
"A personal car is rather inefficient in urban environments as all it does for 95 percent of the time is take up parking space," the expert said.
Editor: Helen Wright