The final report
The final report was presented to the City Council at a seminar on 16 April. Insights and opinions about the scenarios are collected in citizens’ panels that the city will hold in the spring in cooperation with Samforsk, the Social Science Research Institute of Åbo Akademi University. Additionally, the impacts of the scenarios on the operating conditions of businesses and the economy are assessed. Impact assessments and the results of the citizens’ panel are taken into account in the decision-making later this year as a part of processing the master plan and transport plans related to it.
The final report (in Finnish)
The basis of the scenario work is the development objectives of the city centre approved by the City Council, according to which the city centre must be easily accessible, commercially attractive, and comfortable and vibrant throughout the year. The scenarios also examine the development of the city centre in line with the city’s objectives of carbon neutrality and transport mode distribution.
- The development of the city centre inevitably requires organising transport, and the investigation has examined the city centre traffic as a whole. We have brought up concrete measures that enable us to meet the highly ambitious objectives set by the city as well as possible, says Riitta Birkstedt, the project director of the city centre development project.
Slow, fast and major change scenarios
The basis of the slow change scenario is that the city does not make decisions about the broad lines of developing traffic in the city centre. In this scenario, measures that have been already decided on will be implemented and the street network of the city centre will in most parts remain in its current form. The street network will continue to be car-centred, and the nature and hierarchical role of the streets cannot be concluded from the street view. A trunk line network has been taken into use in public transport, but the impact of these measures on the attractiveness of public transport and its share of the transport modes of the city might stay low as a whole.
In the fast change scenario, the street network is made more comfortable and the drive-through traffic is limited by movable roadblocks and paintings. The city centre’s street network has a clear hierarchy and a part of the streets is allocated for pedestrians, another part for public transport and a third part clearly just for the residents of the street. Parking is concentrated as structural parking, which frees up space for other uses. The tramway brings new means of transport to the city, and public transport is supported by allocated lanes and prioritised traffic lights. The cycle traffic network is particularly improved by connections to the city centre and by separating bus traffic and cycle traffic in the city centre.
In the major change scenario, the hierarchy of the streets is created by permanent solutions and more space has been given to pedestrians in particular. The cycle traffic network is designed to be entirely one-way traffic. The departures are frequent and own lanes and prioritisations are allocated for public transport. The private parking facilities around the city centre are within good walking distances to the city centre. Freight transport to the city centre is carried out through a distribution centre located at the edge of the city centre.
Impacts of the scenarios
According to the report drawn up by WSP Finland Oy, the accessibility of the city centre is at risk, as car traffic will be even more congested in every scenario. In the fast and major change scenarios, accessibility to the city centre by public transport is ensured by allocated lanes and prioritised traffic lights. The fast and major change scenarios improve the cycle traffic flow in the city centre and the accessibility of the city centre by cycling.
In the fast and major change scenarios, the accessibility of the city centre by car is supported by structural parking around the city centre. This may accelerate the structural change of commerce in the city centre even more towards services.
The attractiveness of the city centre increases the most in the major change scenario. An attractive walking environment makes room for creating new kinds of services. Decreasing the street space of car traffic allows services to spread out to the street area.
The scenarios show that cutting emissions from transport by half is a very challenging goal. Part of the objectives are delivered along the development of motor and fuel technology, but to decrease the remaining share, rapid renewal of the car fleet or decreasing private car traffic is necessary.
The necessary emission reductions will not be achieved with changes to the transportation systems alone. Instead, measures including the whole city or city region are needed. That is why the major change scenario alone will not provide the necessary reductions either.
The share of sustainable modes of transport is estimated to increase the most in the major change scenario. In the slow change scenario, the sustainable modes of transport may even decrease. Positive development requires measures in the whole city, because the well-organised cycle network in the city centre will not decisively change patterns of mobility if there is no easy access to the city centre by bicycle.
Meeting the objectives set for the development of the city centre requires prioritising the space reserved for traffic in the city centre and route entries leading to the city centre. Car traffic in the city centre does not have the capacity to grow, because the space for traffic does not grow.
Making the city centre suitable for pedestrians is essential for improving the attractiveness of the city. Improving attractiveness increases the time people spend in the city centre, which also benefits businesses.
If more efficient modes of transport are not adopted and their conditions are not ensured, it might weaken the city centre’s accessibility. This would also weaken the opportunities to meet other objectives regarding the city centre.
- From the perspective of the set objectives, the development has even partly gone in the wrong direction. For one, the share of sustainable modes of transport has decreased even though the objective has been to increase it, says Birkstedt.
- Meeting objectives requires practical measures, of which the majority is related to organising traffic. With these three scenarios, we can hopefully proceed quickly to concrete measures.