A snippet of the bicycling-themed mural in Helsinki.

Helsinki aims to be the third best cycling city in the world

When you ask a Finn what the top three cycling cities in the world are, they are likely to name Amsterdam and Copenhagen. When it comes to the third one, no single city stands out from the answers. Helsinki wants to change this and is now aiming to be the third most cycling-friendly city in the world with a campaign.

The top two cycling cities in the world are Copenhagen and Amsterdam. The best cities for cycling are ranked annually in the Copenhagenize Index, which currently ranks Helsinki in the tenth place. Now, Helsinki is aiming to become the third best cycling city in the world.

To move towards the goal, Helsinki wants to make cycling safer, more convenient, and more normal. Everyone in Helsinki can help achieve this goal together no matter what mode of transport they use. In terms of cycling, it is a question of a cultural shift, in which cycling is integrated as an equal among other modes of transport. In practice, this means, for example, separating cycling routes from pedestrian zones and sidewalks.

“Promoting cycling isn’t a goal in itself, but a way to create a city that’s safer, more comfortable and more functional. We want Helsinki to be an enjoyable city for everyone, no matter what mode of transport they use. By developing transport systems as a whole, we can make transport safer and more convenient for all Helsinki citizens,” says Oskari Kaupinmäki, Cycling Coordinator at the City of Helsinki.

Campaign for a better cycling city

Helsinki is now launching a campaign that communicates the city’s intent boldly and playfully, and guides Helsinki residents to commute and move around in a way that creates smooth and safe traffic in the city. As part of the campaign, a cycling-themed mural will be painted on a railway underpass on Helsinginkatu, a busy thoroughfare for cycling in Helsinki. The mural showcases the city’s intent to be among the top three cycling cities in the world: it pictures Helsinki next to Copenhagen and Amsterdam. The mural is scheduled to be completed in May 2021. The campaign will also leave other permanent footprints in the city.  These include trash bin that are installed at an angle to make it easier to dispose of trash even when riding a bicycle.

The campaign is linked to Helsinki's strategic goals for promoting cycling. The project aims at developing cycling and traffic safety in Helsinki in a variety of ways, including positive campaigning and marketing. The project is carried through under “OmaStadi”, an initiative for participatory budgeting in which residents can vote and decide on what the city budget is used.