The municipalities’ joint environmental policy is designed to promote the health, safety and quality of life of residential environments. Green areas, parks and woods have been proven to have both health and recreational benefits to residents. Noise, on the other hand, has negative health effects, even at levels at which people do not perceive it as disturbing. In the resident survey of 2015, most of the comments made were about noise, particularly traffic noise.
The master plan requirements in the Land Use and Building Act require that the master plan shall ensure, among other things, that there are sufficient areas suitable for recreation. If the green areas are easily accessible, people are more inclined to perceive that there are enough of them. Small or fragmented green areas are no substitute for a larger continuous area because the edge effects, such as littering, extend about 50 metres into the area. The extensive green wedges in Lahti enable many free nature services, function as a carbon sink and slow down the greenhouse effect. No changes have occurred in the green area indicators.
|Planned apartments in noisy areas||27||2,8||16,2||46||17,4||ei tietoa||24,9||3|
The public transport system in the Lahti region was overhauled in 2014, so 2015 is the first full year of follow-up. The figures are not comparable to previous years’ figures of public transport use. 6,721,619 trips were made in the Lahti region’s public transport system, that is 33.4 trips per resident per year. This figure does not include the passenger volumes related to the existing transitional operating agreements, nor the passenger volumes related to market-based traffic, nor does it indicate the number of trips in the entire province of Päijät-Häme region. In 2015, Lahti Regional Transport (LSL) operated no routes to Hämeenkoski, but the population of Hämeenkoski is included in the calculations.
The year 2015 saw a record number of days with poor air quality: there were 35 such days in the Lahti region. The number should not exceed 30, according to EU recommendations. Every spring, the air contains a lot of dust, which is lifted into the air by wind and vehicles. The dust levels remain high until the sand is removed from the streets. If the amount of snowfall is low in winter, the dust levels may be high even in winter, which is a recent phenomenon.
One of the goals of Lahti’s strategy is to implement an excellent public transport system complemented by an extensive network of pedestrian and cycling paths. So-called quality cycling corridors have also been prominently included in the discussions about the master plan in 2015. The improvements are not yet visible in the number of combined pedestrian and cycling paths. Other improvements are also possible, such as improvements of signage and widening of pathways.
The proportion of the population living along pedestrian and public transport routes is monitored in the Lahti master plan follow-up. The figure indicates the proportion of the population that has good access to services, either because of the proximity of the city centre or thanks to the efficient public transport system (maximum frequency: every 30 minutes). According to preliminary data for 2015, 82.8% of the residents of Lahti lived in the pedestrian/public transport zone.
Future challenges related to health, safety and quality of life in living environments:
• The new Lahti region has a greater variety of housing opportunities from the city centre to rural villages. The challenge is to control the population growth so that the different environments retain their unique characteristics: the city remains a city and the countryside remains countryside.
• Identification of different zones: from densely-built centres to dynamic villages.
• Reduction of noise and its harmful effects.
• In the future, days with poor air quality will also be recorded in winter, due to the warming climate and the resulting mild winters.