Interior minister: Tallinn speed limits must be flexible

Traffic in Tallinn.
Traffic in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

While new Tallinn deputy mayors Andrei Novikov and Madle Lippus are in favor of lowering speed limits in the capital city, Pirita district elder Tõnis Liinat is stunned as to why the city is only looked at from the perspective of pedestrians. Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani would like to see more flexible speed limits.

"We are certainly not planning on lowering speed limits to 30 km/h all over," Center Party member and Tallinn deputy mayor Andrei Novikov told ERR on Thursday. "Just placing a traffic sign down without redesigning the urban space will not provide the desired effect. We also have areas downtown, where 70 km/h is justified, such as Järvevana tee."

Novikov noted that streets are different and that speed limits could even be set at 20 km/h in calm traffic areas. "It mainly affects intra-quarter areas," the deputy mayor said.

He added that streets in some Tallinn sub-districts, such as Raua, Veerenni and Kassisaba, have already seen speed limits reduced to 30 km/h.

Interior minister Kristian Jaani (Center) said that speed limits on roads between large apartment blocks, where there are many elderly people, could also be lowered.

"Lower speed limits is a matter of safety and we have great examples from neighboring countries," Jaani said. "It has led to Helsinki having the best traffic safety in the world."

Pirita district elder Tõnis Liinat was very critical of ideas expressed by new Social Democratic deputy mayor Madle Lippus and noted that he is stunned to only hear the pedestrian perspective in matters of traffic organization in the city.

"We must take all types of traffic into consideration in the city - from pedestrians and cyclists to public transportation and cars," Liinat said. "If we forbid cars to drive in one place or another and impose other restrictions, but do not create new streets and alternatives, then what are the consequences of banning them?"

"Before you go banning and regulating, you should settle into your new jobs, but discuss things with your coalition partners. Dear future deputy mayor, can you play chess? It does not seem like it. You have to see the entire board and think a few steps ahead. Chess skills are very useful in your future job," Liinat responded to Lippus' ideas of lowering speed limits and reducing the number of cars in Tallinn.

Interior minister: Speed limits need to include flexibility

Neither Jaani nor Novikov consider it reasonable to lower speed limits in all parts of the city all the time. "I support flexibility and digital traffic signs," Jaani said. "The Tammsaare tee extension, for example - 50 km/h is allowed there for some time, 70 km/h for the other times. This flexibility is the keyword here."

Novikov said the city's approach cannot be to just place 30 km/h speed limits. "There are places, where traffic signs alone will not do," the deputy mayor said, adding that traffic organization on some Tallinn roads has not been looked at for years. He pointed to Liivalaia tänav, where it is unlikely that people follow speed limits without a reconstruction project.

Jaani said local municipalities will be given authority to assist in traffic surveillance next year. "The Riigikogu is processing a draft law, which would give local municipalities the option and right to place automatic speed limit cameras," the interior minister said.

Novikov had praise for the potential change in legislation. "I think it is a good idea to give cities levers to pull in monitoring traffic culture," he said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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