Tallinn planning bike lanes that avoid public transport routes

Bike lane traffic signal in Tallinn.
Bike lane traffic signal in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Cyclists in Tallinn say that the Estonian capital's bike lanes still aren't safe or well thought out. Tallinn city government says it intends to significantly rebuild its roads in order to establish safe bike lanes, but it's an expensive enterprise.

Tallinn intends to build cyclists routes that don't intersect with public transport routes.

The city has built new, two-way bike lanes along Toompuiestee that are wider than previously and separated by bollards. According to Tallinn Deputy Mayor Madle Lippus (SDE), who is responsible for the city's urban planning, this is a crucial safety measure.

"[This provides] cognitive safety and the knowledge that drivers will actually notice these bollards as well, and it also produces a different awareness of the street space for drivers as well," Lippus explained.

Bus stops located along bike lanes nonetheless give rise to unsafe conditions, as cyclists are forced to move into vehicular traffic lanes.

According to Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet (Center), the bike lanes on Toompuiestee, Narva maantee and at Hobujaama in the city center are nonetheless interim solutions.

"The bike lanes on Toompuiestee are a fast and quite cheap solution," Svet said. "In order to build proper bike lanes on a street somewhere, the street needs to be rebuilt, which is expensive and time-consuming."

This fall, the Estonian capital intends to start building dedicated bike lanes along Kaarli puiestee and Mere puiestee that won't cross over public transport routes.

"What's generally logical is that the bike lane runs behind the bus stop, meaning that someone waiting for the bus and boarding the bus takes places in step," Lippus explained, adding that clear markings are necessary to ensure that everyone understands where the bike lane runs and where the pedestrian path is located.

Cyclists themselves, however, find that the capital city has a very long way to go when it comes to bike lanes. One Tallinn resident who had previously biked their entire lives now prefers to walk everywhere.

"This is just an ill-conceived system," Signe said. "If you go to other countries, then you can actually see how well it works, how many people actually bike, because the [bike lanes] are very safe and have been well thought through — you can easily get from point A to point B. But Tallinn has a lot of room for improvement."

"Drivers sometimes don't even notice that the bike lane is painted red here, and they drive their own way and still don't take cyclists into account," Jelena said.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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