Tartu's Car-Free Avenue to return and expand with temporary bicycle lanes

Tartu's Car-Free Avenue.
Tartu's Car-Free Avenue. Source: Maanus Kullamaa

Tartu's popular Car-Free Avenue urban space will return for the third year and will include new temporary bicycle lanes.

At the beginning of summer, temporary bicycle lanes – separated from cars and pedestrians – will be built along Riia Street and Vabaduse Avenue. From the Vaksali Bridge towards the city centre, 1+1 lanes will remain on Riia Street for cars, next to which there will be bicycle lanes running in the same direction as the traffic and a speed limit of 30 km/h will be established. 

Vabaduse Avenue will be divided into two parts: the riverside will be converted into a public space, cars will have a 1+1 lane for traffic from the Riia-Turku intersection and a speed limit of 30 km/h will be established. Additional crossings will be built along Vabaduse Avenue. 

From June 17 to August 14, a weekend cultural program will take place on Vabaduse Avenue, a food market will be opened, street food trucks will operate, and familiar outdoor furniture from previous years will be reused in the area.

During the program and events, this section of Vabaduse Avenue will be closed to motorized vehicles and the street will remain open only to non-motorized road users. 

Preparatory works for Car-Free Avenue will begin in May of this year, and the new spatial solution will remain in place until the end of September.

Car-Free Avenue 2022. Source: City of Tartu

Mayor Urmas Klaas said research shows only 13 percent of the city's residents would want to travel by car every day if they had better options.

"This year's Car-Free Avenue will provide an excellent opportunity to test how the residents of Tartu behave when they are given greater freedom of choice in their daily movements," he said.

Tartu City Architect Tõnis Arjus added project focuses on the public space of the city's main streets, where it is important to improve conditions for local residents and the spatial experience of those passing through.

"The project is a testing platform, with which we research and analyze, listen to feedback and think about how future investments would support an even better living environment," said Arjus. 

Different types of data will be collected during the project, and people's experiences will be evaluated when making permanent spatial decisions in the future. 

Car-Free Avenue is organized by the City of Tartu, Visit Tartu, SA Tartu 2024, Tiigi Society House, Tartu Market, and city center undertakings.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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