Earlier this month, the City of Tallinn implemented significant changes to traffic patterns in the Põhja-Tallinn neighborhood of Kalamaja aimed at reducing traffic loads on smaller streets as well as improving cyclist access in the area. Local residents, however, find that the changes have made driving more complicated and yet failed to reduce congestion.
For road users in Kalamaja, the new traffic pattern means that drivers on Suurtüki tänav can no longer turn left onto Rannamäe tee, nor can they drive from Rannamäe tee to Põhja puiestee. The city is hoping that this change will redirect drivers away from overburdened streets.
Drivers are currently using the narrow streets of Kalamaja to get from one city district to another. This means traffic jams on smaller streets and city buses running late, as well as poor conditions in terms of bike lanes.
According to locals, however, the new solution has meant more headaches, but not fewer traffic jams on the neighborhood's streets.
"People are taking two-kilometer detours, which actually pollutes the environment, wastes time and causes traffic jams," Kalamaja resident Karin said. "That's not a good option either. Right now, if you're coming from Mustamäe or Nõmme, you can't get into Kalamaja any other way than via the dangerous intersection by Paks Margareeta, making a left over three or four lanes of traffic and running up your mileage."
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Andrei Novikov (Center) says that the new traffic pattern will take some getting used to.
"But if we look at the overall picture, I'd say that traffic has gotten smoother," Novikov said. "It's very intuitive, meaning one doesn't have to think very much about where their road should take them. Indeed, old habitual roads have changed in some places, but I believe that the overall picture has only gotten smoother."
The city planned these changes last year already, a process that was preceded by traffic studies as well. Nonetheless, locals believe city officials have still missed a few issues.
"You have to get from Kalamaja to the safe bike lane by the Estonia memorial somehow," Karin said. "The intersection at Paks Margareeta is some 100 meters long, includes tram tracks, endless traffic signals and some kind of signs indicating a main road. A little kid isn't capable of crossing that safely. We need separated, safe bike lanes for that."
According to Novikov, the changes implemented this month are currently slated to remain in place through fall, at which point the city will review how the new traffic pattern holds up to more intense traffic.
Editor: Aili Vahtla