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Experts on Tallinn speed limits: Changing traffic signs is not enough

Cars in Tallinn.
Cars in Tallinn.

Tallinn is trying to reduce the speed of cars on many streets. Experts said it is not enough to only replace traffic signs, urban space needs changing too.

Motoring journalist Karl Eduard Salumäe uses both a car and public transport to get around Tallinn but believes that the latter is not user-friendly.

"The biggest large-scale reorganization of the public transport network took place in time for the Olympic Games, 44 years ago now. That's quite a long time. /.../ In terms of its organization and above all its routes, public transport is relatively behind the times," he said.

Currently, 40 percent of Tallinn residents use public transport. The city wants this to rise to 50 percent by 2030. But for this to happen, the network needs to be modernized.

"Comfort is very much the basis on which people choose their mode of transport. And when it comes to convenience, if we are talking about public transport, the first question is whether I can get to my destination in one go, i.e. without any transfers," said Endrik Mänd, the former chief architect of Tallinn. "Today we consider one transfer as natural, but studies show that this is a bit too much for people."

Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet (Center) wants to move traffic out of the city center, taking into account places such as Ülemiste, Rocca al Mare, and Nõmme shopping centers, as well as new districts, when planning routes.

"We have new neighborhoods, new settlements that have emerged in the last couple of decades that are not yet as well connected by public transport as the historic districts, and we want to address this inequity too. Tiskre and Astangu, for example, but there are certainly more. /.../ I believe that already in two or three years, our network will start to look different from what we see today," said Svet.

A big emphasis is placed on electric transport, and there will be electric buses, trams, and trolleybuses.

In addition to public transport, the city has also started to reduce speed limits. Many road users have not even noticed that instead of the usual 50 kilometers per hour, many streets have dropped to 30 and 40 kph.

"It concerns seven or eight trunk roads within the city center, but in parallel on dozens and dozens of streets across the city. Mainly in the streets where schools, nurseries, and residential areas are located, this traffic restriction is gradually expanding," explained Svet.

Initially, only traffic signs have been replaced. But experts said this will not be enough as the urban space also needs changing.

"If you reduce the speed down a little bit and maybe also limit the traffic space a little bit, it disciplines the road users in such a way that in this new situation, in this new traffic flow, the traffic will actually be smoother, more permeable and in a sense faster," Mänd said.

"Just changing the sign will bring the speed down, but the reason for bringing it down is that drivers are probably afraid of getting a fine," said Salumäe.

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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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