Tartu to build separate cycling, vehicle lanes on Riia tänav

A number 2 city bus on Riia tänav in Central Tartu.
A number 2 city bus on Riia tänav in Central Tartu. Source: Mana Kaasik

Separate bike lanes will be constructed on one of Tartu's main thoroughfares, Riia tänav, in the coming years limiting vehicle traffic considerably. The city council has announced a public tender for the project.

Riia tänav is included in the city's cycling network in the general plan and in order to create a separate safe corridor for cyclists on both sides of the carriageway, the road will be narrowed for vehicles.

There were plans to construct temporary cycle lanes on the street this summer, but the council pulled the project at the last minute due to strong opposition.

Tartu City Council member Verni Loodmaa (Reform), a hotel businessman, said people using light traffic and bikes should also be expected to make compromises.

"For example, if we look at the part from Kalevi tänav to Vaksali tänav, parallel to the Riga tänav is Vanemuise tänav with two-way cyclist access, which unfortunately today is not used as it could be," commented Loodmaa.

A woman riding a smart bike in Tartu. Source: Mana Kaasik.

Member of Tartu City Council Mart Hiob (SDE) questioned why cars shouldn't drive elsewhere.

"Cyclists also want to ride, every street must be passable for cyclists. It's not that some streets are for cyclists and some are not. /.../ Since we want cycle lanes mainly at the expense of car lanes, it is logical that we make Riia tänav more inconvenient for drivers and more convenient for cyclists," he said.

Cycle lane planning is complicated by the fact that 10 bus lines also use Riia tänav. But it is clear the current 2+2 lanes will not exist in the future.

Mihkel Vijar, Tartu's pedestrian and bicycle paths specialist, said: "At the moment, it works as a main highway, and in the future it will not be able to continue working as such. This traffic must spread to other streets. /.../ The traffic will definitely get narrower here. This is what will be revealed during planning, how narrow it will be. The speed limit will certainly be lowered, depending on the section, to either 30 or 40 kilometers per hour."

The cycle paths on Riia tänav will be ready in 2025 at the earliest.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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