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Helsinki's pedestrian city centre is expanding

Next summer, Helsinki will expand the pedestrian, sitting and cycling areas in the city centre. On 15 November, the Urban Environment Committee decided on the matter. Businesses, property owners and residents can participate in the detailed planning of the redevelopments and share their views and experiences during the experiment.
Esplanadi park during summer. Photo: Helena Roschier
Esplanadi park during summer. Photo: Helena Roschier

As a result of the redevelopments, the Esplanadi and Lönnrotinkatu roadways will be converted to single lanes. Kasarmikatu, Erottajankatu and the Design Museum square will once again have a summer street area with benches and flowers. A bike lane will be added on Lönnrotinkatu for cyclists travelling westbound.

The aim is to have the changes visible in the streetscape during summer 2023. The new areas of Esplanadi and Lönnrotinkatu will be reserved for pedestrians and cyclists until autumn 2024 according to the preliminary plan, but this period may be changed in the light of experience. The summer streets will only be in use for the summer season 2023.

Residents and businesses invited to get involved in planning

Helsinki is inviting businesses and property owners in the Esplanadi area to participate in planning the pedestrian and sitting areas, so that the experiment supports the needs of businesses. Three workshops will be held between November 2022 and January 2023 to design the expanding pedestrian areas.

Resident participation will start on 14 December at 5:30 p.m. with a brainstorming workshop. The event will start with a half-hour walking tour from the main entrance of Helsinki City Hall, facing the Market Square, at 5:30 p.m. After the tour, the brainstorming workshop will start at 6:00 p.m. at the Sofia corner of the Tori Quarters, at Sofiankatu 4 C. The workshop will discuss future changes to Esplanadi and the meaning and life of the area at different times of the day and year. Please note that the event will be organised in Finnish.

Once the redevelopments have been implemented, experiences and opinions will be collected from businesses, property owners, residents and shop customers. The evaluation of the experiments will pay particular attention to their impact on the business of service companies in the city centre.  There are also plans to set up a residents’ council.

There will also be café discussions open to all about the history and future of Esplanadi. Information on events and other forms of interaction will be compiled on a website that will be set up for the project. Information about opportunities for participation will also be available in the Urban Environment Division's social media channels.

The expansion of pedestrian areas is linked to Helsinki's goal of having a vibrant city centre with thriving pedestrian areas, pleasant places to sit and meet, and a coherent network of pedestrian areas.