I met anna in Budapest Mobility Week Workshop. She was one of my roommates, and I greatly enjoyed her company and ideas. She asked me to write something on her blog, so if you are interested, I'll be writing here every now and then. Here's a short introduction to my city:
Turku is a city of 175'000 people (300'000 at the agglomeration) located at the south western coast of Finland. I have lived there for 6 and a half years, and almost always used cycling as my primary means of transportation. In 1997 11.5 % of all trips were made by bike and half by car, the rest by public transit and walking. There is a separated bike lane network centered at the city center so it is easily accessible by bike. Most of cultural, economical and educational activities also take place at the center, so it is a city with an active core, although suburbanization is an increasing trend. There is also a rather functional market square-centered public transportation system, but you are not allowed to take your bike into the buses. There are lots of bike racks everywhere in the city. 45% of households don't own a car, but most of these households are singles living on their own, like me :). Most of us go around by bike, bus or walking.
The market square
I'm happy to say, that Turku has a good reputation as a cyclist friendly city. There are many functional bike lanes, and most of the motorists respect cyclists and bike lanes. Cycling is rather safe, and in the last 20 years the share and amount of bike accidents has decreased. Also, for bike tourists Turku is a nice base town. There are ring roads that leave from Turku or nearby towns to the Archipelago of Turku, which is a famous holiday destination for cyclists.
My friend Heidi Heinonen riding Föri, a light traffic ferry, accross the river with our bikes
However, despite of the great plans of the city to build new bike lanes and promote cycling, nothing new is happening. The city fathers don't seem to care too much about developing the city light traffic. There are issues with the accessibility of some bike lanes and the safety of some crossroads. Also, increasing area of the city is getting car dependent because of suburbanization. Some in the neighboring municipalities are not easily accessible by public transit and are too far to cycle from. The system in Turku is not as good as e.g. in Netherlands, but it is better than in Budapest, Hungary, or Thunder Bay, Canada.
Thank you for your interest and thanks for the opportunity, anna!
P.S. If you have something specific that you want to hear about, please let me know.