As the spring arrives in Estonia, more and more people have been taking advantage of the warmer weather and traveling through Tallinn by bicycle and e-scooter. However, there have already been almost 30 accidents involving pedestrians and e-scooters this year in the Estonian capital alone. The police are reminding road users to be considerate of others, obey street signs and remember that in Estonia, traffic moves on the right-hand side of the road.
According the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), the fact that there have already been 15 accidents involving cyclists and 12 involving e-scooters in Tallinn so far this year, is cause for concern. Because two-wheel light vehicles are allowed to travel on the sidewalk, pedestrians sometimes feel at risk, reports ETV show "Aktuaalne kaamera."
Taavi Kirss, head of the PPA's Traffic Supervision Department, said that there have been very few incidents in which pedestrians have been hit by scooters or bikes while using Tallinn sidewalks.
"However, what is important is the feeling of safety, or how pedestrians feel when they are passed so closely (by scooters or bikes). When we've been doing traffic surveillance ourselves, pedestrians say, that (cyclists and scooter users) don't even ring their bells. That means, they can't hear them coming up from behind, and so they get startled. So, maybe (we need to show more) respect for each other," Kirss said.
At the same time, according to Kirss, in places where footpaths and cycle lanes are separated by a single line painted on the ground, it is still common for pedestrians and cyclists to drift over into one another's designated areas.
In some cases, where pedestrians, cyclists and cars should be on the roads, is still likely to cause confusion for a little while longer however. Fresh signage to clarify things is due to be installed in early May.
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet (Center) said, that the city is now working on cleaning cycle paths in preparation for the spring season in the same way as it does with sidewalks and roads.
"Cleaning them and clearing away all the winter debris should be completed by May 1. After that, we have another two-week gap until Tallinn Day to fix any issues. From the first week of May, once the major clean-up is over, safety posts (bollards) will also be put back on the cycle paths," said Svet.
Kalev Nõmm is a seasoned cyclist and head of Nõmme Cycling Club (Nõmme Rattaklubi). He teaches children, the same things about using the roads, as they are later taught when learning to drive from the age of 16. In this way, he believes, they will cause fewer problems when using the roads, than amateur adult cyclists, who may not have had any training or guidance.
Nevertheless, Nõmm believes there is also a lot the city can do to improve infrastructure for cyclists.
"The solution we have in Tallinn today, with red lines painted in the center of the city and lines marked on the roads leading to different districts, well, it's not sustainable. It's a bit dangerous. There could be separate traffic routes for light vehicles. That is, completely separated from other forms of traffic, including pedestrians," Nõmm said.
This year, the City of Tallinn is planning to add a number of new cycle lanes. Part of the plan is to make ten of the city center's most hazardous spots safer for cyclists.
Editor: Michael Cole