Research has shown that a varied environment of green areas and woods provides residents with health and recreational benefits. Urban nature has direct health effects: According to the results of a University of Helsinki research project led from Lahti, even brief contact with forest soil improves the diversity of microbiota in the intestine and on the skin and decreases the abundance of bacteria that cause illnesses. In addition, the level of beneficial substances that control the immune response was found to increase along with the increased diversity of microbiome in the body. These tests performed on day-care children and adults are the first in the world to demonstrate a direct causality between immune response and exposure to nature.
The pleasantness and safety of environments in which people live and move around were extensively surveyed in 2018 at OmaLahti (‘My Lahti’) events included in the Lahti Direction work. The material collected through the My Everyday Places and Travel Experience in Lahti survey will be used for the development of a sustainable transport plan, the city master plan and more detailed land use planning. The completed city master plan and sustainable transport plan will be adopted in 2020.
About 100 hiking trips and 16 Explore Nature lectures were offered in 2018. This is possible in cooperation between municipalities, citizens and associations.
Number of journeys on public transport increased again
In 2018, a total of 7,414,744 journeys were made on public transport in the Päijät-Häme region. This equates to approximately 36.9 journeys per resident, with the population of Päijät-Häme amounting to 200,681.
In addition, it is worth noting that the Lassi minibuses were introduced in cross-town traffic within Lahti in 2018.
The relative change index for vehicle traffic was not obtained for 2018 because of technical problems at the monitoring points.
In 2018, Lahti monitored air quality with five monitoring stations. EUR 15,000 was invested in 2018 in an analyser of nitrogen oxides. The automatic stations monitor the levels of nitrogen oxides, ozone, inhaled particles and fine particles. In addition, there are three passive tubes at different locations, exchanged every two weeks, for the detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
In 2018, a four-month measurement of particle-bound PAH compounds was carried out. PAH compounds result from incomplete burning of organic matter, such as wood. Many PAH compounds are carcinogenic or mutagenic. The levels were high, and guidance for residents was initiated as a further measure. The measurements are also being continued.
In 2018, there were 35 days during which the air quality in Lahti was poor or very poor at a minimum of one station for at least one hour.
The CitiCAP project, funded by the EU’s Urban Innovation Action, will build a modern, easy and safe cycling route between the Travel Centre and Apilakatu. Its routing was discussed with residents in 2018. After the decision on routing, street planning began. Planning work also continued to develop a personal emissions trading application that encourages sustainable mobility.
Instead of only promoting cycling, the emphasis is on smart transportation: people in different situations must be allowed to make rational decisions with regard to the duration of the transport, health promotion and need to transport goods. For instance, attention should be paid to the quality and maintenance of cycle paths, as well as the levels of comfort and safety of the walking environment.
In Lahti, amount of cycle ways separated from cars and pedestrians was 2 km.
Future plans and challenges
Achieving a change in modes of transport: In 2030, over 50 per cent of journeys are made sustainably
Increasing the comfort and safety of the urban environment
Ensure investment funding for main cycle paths/dedicated cycling routes
Completion of the modern cycling route developed by the CitiCAP project and deployment of the emissions trading application
Reduction of noise and its harmful effects