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Planning principles

Suburban Helsinki is served by a comprehensive cycling route network, but the network in the inner city is lacking. The densely built inner city cannot accommodate enough cycling routes to make for a comprehensive network, so cyclists have to be directed to streets. Street networks need to be developed in ways to allow for smooth, safe and pleasant cycling, whether cycling routes run along dedicated bikeways or on streets.

It depends on the volumes of vehicles and cyclists as well as speed limits whether to build dedicated bikeways or bike lanes or whether to direct cyclists to mingle with vehicles on streets. Cyclists can join vehicles on quiet streets with low speeds. But dedicated cycling routes are needed if streets are busy and speeds are high. Alternatively, speed limits can be lowered to improve cycling conditions.

Solutions for cycling

Helsinki has reformed the City’s planning principles for cycling. The first part of the new principles was approved by the City Planning Committee in May 2012. The second part of the principles was completed in autumn 2013. The new principles comprise both old and new solutions, which include the following.


A bikeway is a part of a road separated structurally from the rest of the road, or a separate path meant for cyclists only. Bikeways prevent conflicts between cyclists and vehicles on straight road stretches, but they can create problems at road junctions. A bikeway can be one-way or two-way. One-way bikeways are easier to fit into urban environments than two-way bikeways, and they can be easily integrated with roadways, enabling smooth and safe solutions at junctions.

Bike lane

A bike lane is a part of a roadway separated from the rest with markings on the roadway and intended for cyclists and mopeds. A bike lane is always one-way in the direction of the rest of the traffic. Bike lanes allow for smooth traffic flow at road junctions and help drivers to see cyclists, which improves traffic safety. Bike lanes are suitable for urban environments where speeds are low. Bike lanes and one-way bikeways are easy to integrate.

Advanced stop box

An advanced stop box (or advanced stop line or bike box) consists of road markings at traffic-light controlled road junctions allowing cyclists a head start when the traffic signal changes from red to green.

Road junctions

Two-way bikeways have been found to be particularly dangerous at road junctions. Most cycling accidents take place at junctions, and usually a vehicle is involved. One-way bikeways and lanes are safer than two-way ones, because cyclists always enter junctions from the same direction as vehicles. Significant benefits can be achieved if one-way bike paths can be brought to roadways at junctions and pedestrian crossings, separated from pedestrian traffic.

Bus stops

Bike lanes can easily run through bus stops, because there are no parked cars at stops and buses stop there only briefly. When a bus is stopped, cyclists can pass the bus on the roadway side or wait behind the bus for the bus to move on. A cyclist approaching a bus stop has right of way and the bus has to yield. As normal, a bus has right of way when it moves on from a stop.

This solution allows for efficient use of space and smooth cycling. It also avoids conflicts between passengers entering and exiting the bus.

Bikeways can also run behind bus stops. Two-way bikeways are often built in this way. However, bikeways running behind bus stops take a great deal more space than bike lanes running through bus stops. Inner city areas rarely allow for sufficiently wide bikeways behind bus and tram stops.

20.11.2020 06:24