Tallinn urban planning mayor: Speed limit in capital should be lowered

Tallinn urban planning deputy mayor Madle Lippus.
Tallinn urban planning deputy mayor Madle Lippus. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Social Democratic Party (SDE) member and new Tallinn deputy mayor responsible for urban planning Madle Lippus told ERR that the speed limits in Tallinn should be lowered to 30 km/h. She noted that bicycles and pedestrians should be given more space at the expense of cars.

I sin. Namely, I drive to work in my personal car from Pirita to Kesklinn. What will you do with comfort drivers like myself?

I would ask you what would motivate you to give up your car? What would motivate you to use other options to go to Kesklinn.

Nothing would motivate me besides a fast, comfortable and warm car.


Even more comfort and faster speeds could be a motivator, perhaps. That could make people change their choices. For many, health can be such a motivator. I feel significantly better if I have some kind of physical movement during my day.

You mentioned speed, should the speed limit for cars in the city be capped at 30 km/h?

Seems reasonable to me. A major argument is general safety. Cars moving slower would bring forth sensible safety. Slower driving has actual benefits, because the weaker party does not get as injured in a collision. In addition, cars make less noise and pollute less if speeds are lower. Driving speed does not significantly affect the time spent on traveling in the city, at least according to most studies. If we think of it like that, there are no arguments against imposing a 30 km/h speed limit.

Can cars be repelled from downtown Tallinn by making traffic more uncomfortable, perhaps removing driving lanes?

I do not want the urban space to be unpleasant or uncomfortable for anyone. People should feel good in all parts of the city. If you need to go somewhere by car, you should be able to. But I do want cyclists and pedestrians to feel good in the city.

It is not so right now. Public space is more limited downtown anyway, especially compared to newer developments. We must make clear choices on how to distribute the little space we have, so cyclists and pedestrians could also feel good.

We do not need to do anything other than take the main street project out of the drawer and swipe the dust from it. The project saw street spaces given back to pedestrians and cyclists.

The coalition agreed to table the question again. The shortcomings of the project must be looked at. We need to establish goals for the urban space and look at it from a broader perspective. The first important step has already been taken, the Tallinn 2035 city strategy plan has pointed out different types of streets and their quality of space.

We must now look at streets individually to see what the goal of the specific street is and how it could be better used. And not only from a traffic perspective. I personally think we should not be talking about any major roads in cities, because they rule out any quality the space could have, especially downtown.

As much as I have followed the action and statements by the Tallinn mayor (Mihhail Kõlvart), it seems like he favors cars. He likes wide roads. A battle between you two is already planned?

I have been a cooperative person in my dealings so far. We must first establish the principles and long-term goals. It is actually stated in the Tallinn 2035 city strategy plan, we must now agree upon the specific steps.

Tallinn urban planning deputy mayor Madle Lippus. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Habits are often changed by taxing them. Could vehicle taxes, a downtown entry tax and other financial constraints be discussed?

Thinking of the scarcity of urban space, we must make some decisions to achieve a certain quality of space. What these decisions will be, I cannot say for certain.

Do you use electric scooters?


Several Nordic capitals have started limiting the number of scooters in capital cities. Stockholm is set to remove half of the scooters. Should they be limited in Tallinn?

I personally would say "no". We do have the issue, because scooters, pedestrians and cyclists do not fit together in the tight space. Tallinn should start from the other end, the space needs to be reassessed and redistributed. We have sidewalks, where two pedestrians do not fit, not to mention bicycles. So we need to work on redistributing the space.

Scooters and bicycles drive on bus lanes in Berlin.

They tried this [in Tallinn] last year, but it did not work. I am not a traffic expert, but I will certainly study it more when I start working in city government and can provide a better answer then.

One option to reduce the number of cars is to offer people free public transportation. Why are resources spent for municipal officers to look for individual ticketless passengers instead of offering everyone free rides? Tourists would also use trams and buses more instead of taxis.

There are more than 60,000 people going to work daily in Tallinn, but there is no common transportation system. In addition, the route network is exactly what it is currently. Cars are a mandatory choice at times and are even cheaper, even if you consider parking fees. This does not seem reasonable, we should allocate more toward buses, it ends up being cheaper.

The average Estonian wants to live in coastal humidity and certainly near downtown. Can you predict how the overdevelopment of Põhja-Tallinn will eventually go? Does Tallinn need to disperse even more people in all directions?

I do not know if they need to be dispersed, but different centers must certainly be developed. That is something the Association of Architects has also said. All city districts should have a certain center, that would reduce the need for movement.

A potential Mustakivi tee breakthrough from Pirita to Lasnamäe has caused many arguments, is such a breakthrough meant for cars from the previous century or is it the 21st century?

I am not up to date with the details, but I have heard from urban space enthusiasts that such a breakthrough does not contribute to Tallinn's strategic goals, which is limiting the number of cars. I feel like this is not necessary.

What does an ideal midtown Tallinn look like in 10 years?

It should be a mentally whole area. I live in the Süda-Tatar subdistrict, Liivalaia tänav and Pärnu maantee are very unpleasant for me. The businesses and cafes that are on the other side of Pärnu maantee do not exist for me. I do not even remember them.

We need a common mental whole, nothing should be too difficult to access and too far mentally. I want to sense the entire city, or at least my immediate vicinity, and be able to go there by foot or by bicycle.

Tallinn urban planning deputy mayor Madle Lippus. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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