null Walking and cycling in Finland – National walking and cycling forum to be established

Walking and cycling in Finland – National walking and cycling forum to be established

Press release 02.07.2020 16.10 fi sv en

Cyclist, pedestrians and dog. (Picture: Ministry of Transport and Communications, illustration Kati Närhi)

What are the characteristics of a good path for walking or cycling? How to motivate more and more people to use sustainable transportation for short distances to work, school or shops? How to improve the preconditions for increasing walking and cycling across Finland? The Ministry of Transport and Communications will establish a National stakeholder forum for walking and cycling for the present government term. The first forum will be held on 7 September 2020. 

This year, the Government supports walking and cycling by EUR 42.9 million, which is more than ten times the amount granted in 2019. Various means to help increase walking and cycling will also be examined. The environmental and health benefits of walking and cycling are undisputed.  

“Replacing the use a passenger car by walking and cycling will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions from traffic, air pollution and noise but also make the environment more inviting and improve traffic safety. In addition, promoting walking and cycling is a very cost-efficient way to increase physical activity,” says Director of Unit Päivi Antikainen.

“This spring, during the coronavirus epidemic, cities around the world have made their streets more attractive and safer for walking and cycling. We are boosting the trend of making walking and cycling and other sustainable modes of transport more and more attractive alternatives,” Antikainen says.

The first forum will be a webinar to be held in September

The Walking and cycling in Finland forum aims to share information and experiences about effective measures taken in different parts of Finland and to ensure that the objectives of the National Programme for the promotion of walking and cycling will be met. The Programme aims to increase the number of walking and cycling trips by 30 per cent by 2030. To reach the objective, people need to take approximately 450 million new walking and cycling trips. 

The Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, and the Transport Infrastructure Agency will organise the first forum on 7 September 2020. Cities, municipalities, organisations, companies and central government sectors that are implementing the National Programme for the promotion of walking and cycling are invited to send their representatives to participate in the forum. 

Substantial increase in funding to support walking and cycling 

The funding for sustainable mobility has increased considerably during this government term. In the budget and the fourth supplementary budget for 2020, EUR 42.9 million is reserved for the promotion of walking and cycling.

Measures to be taken in the state transport infrastructure network have been granted EUR 10 million, half of which will be allocated to municipalities in the regions of Helsinki, Oulu, Tampere and Turku in line with the agreements concerning land use, housing and transport. The funding for the state transport infrastructure network will be used, among other things, for developing park-and-ride facilities for bikes at railway stations and highway nodes, bicycle networks in urban areas and sign posting of the Eurovelo routes. This year's support for municipalities amounts to EUR 32.9 million compared with EUR 3.5 million in 2019. Of this sum, municipalities located in the Helsinki, Oulu, Tampere and Turku regions can apply for a minimum of EUR 4.5 million, based on the negotiation results on the agreements concerning land use, housing and transport. Grants for local authorities will be directed at measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport and to improve the conditions for walking and cycling. Additionally, funding has been channelled to the establishment of a coordination centre for cycling tourism in Finland and to the Smart to School project.

Various mobility guidance projects have been supported by a total of EUR 1.15 million in 2020. By building up knowledge or conducting service experiments, the projects seek to influence people’s choice of transport modes and to increase walking and bicycle traffic and other sustainable mobility preferences.

The number of walking and cycling paths to be paved this year is higher than planned. In May, an additional appropriation of around EUR 3 million was allocated for paving walking and cycling paths, which will be enough for paving around a hundred kilometres of paths.

For the budget for 2021, an increase of a total of EUR 25 million has been proposed to be channelled as grants to municipalities for promoting walking and cycling. In 2021, municipalities will be awarded a total of EUR 28.5 million in discretionary government grants for promoting walking and cycling. 

Research to give new momentum to walking and cycling

The National Programme for the promotion of walking and cycling identifies 31 measures ranging from zoning to introducing city bikes. Cities and towns can promote sustainable modes of transport by, for example, improving the condition of the transport infrastructure. Employers, schools and daycare centres can also promote the matter in many ways, such as by developing bicycle parking, offering good staff facilities and introducing mobility plans.

A project funded by Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities supports the planning and decision-making to help put the measures promoting walking and cycling into practice. The aim of the project is to find incentives and good practices. The results of the Opportunities for and obstacles to the promotion of walking and cycling will be completed in March 2021. The project will be implemented by FCG Finnish Consulting Group Oy.

Inquiries:

Tuire Valkonen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 29 534 2047, tuire.valkonen(at)lvm.fi, Twitter @ValkonenTuire 

Päivi Antikainen, Director of Unit, tel. +358 50 382 7101, paivi.antikainen(at)lvm.fi, Twitter @PaiviAntikainen