Walking and cycling are modes of transport which are in line
with a sustainable and environmentally friendly transport policy.
The promotion of bicycle and pedestrian traffic also contributes to
making the transport system fair for its users. Not everyone has
their own car or access to an efficient public transport link, and
these people must be ensured the opportunity to reach their
destination by walking or cycling.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications is making efforts to increase the modal share of pedestrian and bicycle traffic, particularly in urban regions. The street network and walking and cycling routes in towns and cities should be planned in such a way as to ensure safe movement throughout.
In its Transport Policy Report of 2012, the Government stated that the promotion of walking and cycling in an appropriate manner will be taken into account in transport policy, the procurement of transport services and the development of transport conditions.
In the Climate Policy Programme for the Ministry of Transport and Communications' administrative branch (2009), quantitative targets were set for non-motorised traffic with a view to reducing emissions. These aims were retained in their existing form in the 2013 update to the Programme.
Provisions on non-motorised traffic are laid down in the Road
traffic act (267/1981) and decree (182/1982) and in the Ministry's
decision on traffic control (203/1982). A comprehensive revision of
the Road Traffic Act began in autumn 2013.
The Finnish Transport Agency and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities have joint planning instructions for bicycle and pedestrian traffic, which is to also be updated. The issue is also included in the instructions for the maintenance of streets and pedestrian and cycle routes.
A Strategy for Walking and Cycling 2020 and the associated
implementation plan were completed in 2011. The Strategy aims to
increase the share of journeys made by foot or by bicycle by 20 per
cent, or 300 million trips. A corresponding decrease should take
place in short passenger car trips.
The implementation of these policy lines requires that different kinds of organisations and various levels of administration are committed to the project and engage in close cooperation.
According to the Strategy, walking and cycling are healthy modes of travel, which people should be encouraged to use. Walking and cycling should be fully recognised in the transport system alongside other modes of transport, and this should be reflected in the allocation of resources. Non-motorised traffic should also be given attention in urban, traffic and land use planning.
When the trip to work, school or everyday services is short, pleasant and safe, people are more likely to see walking and cycling as attractive options for making the journey. The measures needed to achieve this are goal-driven cooperation among all the actors involved, reallocation of resources, changes in legislation and follow-up of development.
Together with relevant stakeholders, in 2012 the Finnish Transport Agency drafted a national action plan for implementing the Strategy for Walking and Cycling by 2020. The plan is to be jointly implemented and an interim evaluation will be carried out in 2016.Safe walking and cycling can be promoted by building pedestrian and cycle routes, which at the moment comprise some 5,000 km, and by building over- and under-passes along roads. On roads that have no separate paths for pedestrians or cyclists, it is important that the verges are properly maintained. Action to improve lighting and traffic control will also contribute to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications cooperates with its administrative branch, local and regional authorities, the Ministries of the Environment, Employment and the Economy, Social Affairs and Health, and Education and Culture in developing pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The Ministry is represented on the Committee for Health-Enhancing Physical Activity (TELI Committee), whose fields of interests include promoting walking and cycling.There is also unofficial cooperation on developing non-motorised traffic, particularly with other Nordic and EU countries.