New pedestrian and cycling areas are first to be built temporarily on the Esplanades, Kasarmikatu, Erottajankatu, Lönnrotinkatu and Korkeavuorenkatu in front of the Design Museum. Experiences and information on the new areas will be used in planning future transport arrangements for central Helsinki.
Urban Environment Committee discusses the principles of the implementation of pedestrian and cycling areas on 1 November. If the Committee approves the plan, the work will start at the beginning of summer 2023 and continues until the end of 2024, according to the preliminary plan.
Clearer pedestrian street network
The changes to be made next summer aim at a clearer pedestrian street network and smooth connections between the squares and pedestrian areas.
The new pedestrian areas are most prominent in the North and South Esplanades, where the flow of people and brick-and-mortar shops are ideally suited for walking and recreation. Based on a recent resident survey by the city, Helsinkians hope for more walking opportunities and greenery, especially on the North Esplanade.
Esplanade roadways will be converted into single-lane traffic with loading points to secure maintenance traffic. The pedestrian area on North Esplanade will be widened with temporary structures. On South Esplanade, additional space for cyclists will be separated from the roadway.
Lönnrotinkatu’s roadway will be converted into single-lane traffic, adding a bike lane for cyclists travelling west and increasing walking opportunities.
Improvements will also be introduced in Erottajankatu, Kasarmikatu and Korkeavuorenkatu at the Design Museum Square and in front of the museum, where the summer streets implemented last summer proved successful. The streets will have more room for walking and spending time, including flower and plant boxes and benches.
Collecting experiences from businesses and residents
Helsinki aims to create a more welcoming, vibrant, and experience-rich city centre. The Helsinki City Strategy 2021–2025 raises the promotion of walking as an important attraction for the centre. The City Board also advocates improvements in the walking environment.
“A good environment for walking and spending time attracts people to dwell in the city centre. Studies and experience from other cities show that increasing the number of pedestrians brings more customers and sales to the shops. Expanding the pedestrian centre also improves the safety of walkers and supports Helsinki’s climate goals,” says Rikhard Manninen, Helsinki's Head of Strategic Planning Division.
The planning will use the experience from the summer street experiment. The expanding Esplanade pedestrian areas will be planned in joint workshops with key businesses and property owners. Feedback on the designs will be also collected during the experiment from property owners, businesses and residents so that future traffic arrangements can be functional for all parties.
More permanent pedestrian improvement measures will be planned in the transport system plan for the city centre using the information and experience gained from the solutions to be implemented next summer. The decision on the plan will be made in 2023.