Promotion of cycling
The City of Helsinki strives to raise the share cycling to 15 percent of all modes of transport in the city by 2020. In 2013, this share was 11 percent. By increasing cycling, Helsinki can become a more pleasant and dynamic city. With the city’s growing population, Helsinki should increase the popularity of walking, cycling and public transport to keep transport and traffic in the city efficient.
Means to increase the popularity of cycling are listed in a cycling promotion programme, which was approved by the City Planning Committee in spring 2013. The activities proposed in the programme aim to make cycling more attractive on routine journeys.
According to the programme, cycling should be a convenient and safe way to travel in the city. The proposed activities lay a heavy emphasis on the development of cycling routes. Helsinki’s main challenges are in the inner city: bikeways and bike lanes are far apart, and routes are interrupted. There is little space for new two-way bikeways, so the City plans to build more one-way bikeways and bike lanes in the inner city.
Bike corridors for commuters
New high-quality cycling routes are proposed to connect the main housing areas to large concentrations jobs. Such “bike corridors” would facilitate commuting by bike. They would enable fast, direct and steady-paced cycling. The bike corridor network would consist of both newly built sections and existing but upgraded bikeways. Special attention would be paid to separation of cycling and walking.
Separation of cycling and walking is a concern on other cycling routes as well, because cycling must not cause pedestrians to feel unsafe. Safety should also be improved with new arrangements at junctions.
The winter maintenance of cycling routes should be improved to promote year-round cycling. This requires development of improved maintenance methods and maintenance classifications as well as equipment suitable for cycling routes.
Furthermore, the cycling promotion programme proposes increased bike parking, improved lighting and signage on cycling routes, a city bike programme and enhanced marketing.
Increased funding proposed
It is proposed that the annual funding for cycling in Helsinki should be raised from the current 5–7 million euros to 20 million euros. With an annual investment of 20 million, the inner-city cycling route network would be completed in 2018 and almost all new corridors by 2025. Detailed planning of the inner city routes and the corridors will have to be carried out with regard to many questions, such as use of the limited street space for cycling, public transport, cars, parking and green elements.
A report on the benefits and costs of cycling completed in January 2013 shows that an annual investment of 20 million euros in cycling would produce sizable social benefits, especially improved health and reachability. The cost-benefit ratio is nearly 8, meaning that an investment of 1 euro would produce benefits worth 8 euros.