Effects of bike-sharing network on Tartu's traffic too early to assess

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Tartu. Source: Mana Kaasik

Bicycles in Tartu's Smart Bike Share network have covered nearly 5 million km over the last two years but it is still too early to assess what the effects of the network have been on the usage of cars in the city.

One of the goals of the bike-sharing network is to reduce the number of cars in the city but it is still too early to assess whether or not that has happened, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Sunday.

"It goes both ways. If 10 people go for bicycles instead of cars, then another person can see that there is more room for cars in the city so they feel like they can drive a car. We cannot see it clearly, but if we see bikes being used, we can make calculations. We know that only one person drives in a car on average. So if we have 100 people using bicycles, for example, we can reduce 100 cars," said Tartu city transport manager Roman Meeksa.

The network has 8,000 regular users daily, using around 700 bicycles scattered around the city. "We can clearly see that bus users also use bicycles. Since the system works together, we were glad to see that once electric bikes came out, their usage has gone up significantly," Meeksa noted.

Maari, a local who replaces her car and bus rides with a bicycle for the warmer months, said: "I do not want to drive my car for short distances, it is faster by bicycle."

Another Tartu resident, Robert, said: "It has completely replaced taking the bus for me. Well, there are not too many long distances in Tartu, you can get everywhere with these. The only thing is that there are no bicycles available sometimes."

Therefore, demand for bicycles, especially electric, is perhaps even greater than the system can offer.

In addition to the bike-sharing parking lots in Tartu, other ones are located in Kõrveküla, Ilmatsalu and Luunja. Another parking rack is planned for Lähte, some 15 km from Tartu city center.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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