3. Sustainable Urban Mobility

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3. Sustainable Urban Mobility

3A. Current situation

Present situation

Infrastructure and Modal Share

The current urban structure is primarily inherited from the 1950s-1970s. The population has grown very little since 1975. A good road network was developed for cars, making it a very convenient transportation mode. Major transportation routes almost cut through the city centre. Also, the cold climate, hilly landscape and rather sparse population favour motorization. There are 468 cars per 1 000 residents in Lahti. Despite the convenience of cars, the share of cars has decreased from about 63% in the mid 1990s to 49% in 2016 (Fig. A1).

Before 2014, the public transportation system was operated by private companies subsidized by the city. Transferring the responsibility to the City of Lahti has allowed the public transportation system to be reformed. In 2015, 77.3% of residents lived in a pedestrian/public transportation zone (definition: bus at least every 30 minutes and maximum distance to a bus stop 250 m). Recent reforms will increase the use of public transportation (Fig. A1). During the winter weekdays, there are 98 buses running, which 77 are two-axle, 18 multi-axle and 3 minibuses.

VR is a state-owned railway company in Finland, with plenty of destinations to and from Lahti. In 2016, about 2.15 million travels were made on Lahti’s rail passage. Couple of private water bus companies operate from Lahti, in 2016, there were 13 964 passengers.

Lahti has a good network of cycling paths(Fig. C1). There are 532 km of combined pedestrian and cycling paths (2016). The cycling paths are of high quality (i.e. wide, separated from cars, good quality asphalt). The share of bicycles has increased from 3% in the mid 1990s to 18% in 2016 (Fig. A1).

Modal split

Figure A1.The modal split has varied over the decades. The share of cars is declining and the share of bicycles is increasing.

The data represents all journeys within the City of Lahti. Data for 2016 is preliminary. The upper graph shows data for Nastola and “Old Lahti” (i.e. without Nastola). The lower graph shows the data for “Old Lahti” only.

Mobility Flows

Lahti and its neighbouring municipalities of Hollola, Orimattila and Asikkala form a closely-knit area, within which the greatest share of journeys are made (Figs. A2, A3). Over 2 000 cars enter Lahti from nearby areas and over 4 000 cars leave Lahti, daily. The share of cars making longer journeys is 80-90%. The most common destination from Lahti Region is to Helsinki (Fig. A2), and then to the Capital Region (over 11 000 trips). We have great train connections to Helsinki (1 h), Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (1 h) and St Petersburg.

Mobility flows

Figure A2. Mobility flows within Lahti and the nearby areas. Data 2010. (Source: Lahden seudun liikennetutkimus)

Mobility zones

Figure A3. Mobility zones of the Lahti urban area. Click to englarge map.

Most of the passenger cars use petrol or diesel, but the share of alternative-fuel vehicles is increasing. Currently, there are 23 electric, 35 biogas and 121 hybrid cars in Lahti. Lahti has about 10 charging stations for electric cars, with some free of charge. Lahti Aqua Ltd and Päijät-Häme Waste Management Ltd produce biogas and currently have 1 public station.

Alternative Fuels

The Lahti Group owns 8 electric cars and 35 biogas cars, and a few electric bicycles, which are used by civil servants for work-related journeys. In 2014, Lahti replaced nearly the entire public transportation fleet (Fig. A4). Now 87% of the city’s buses are low emission buses (86% Euro VI, 1% Euro V).

Low floor buses

Figure A4. 87% of the bus fleet has low emissions (86% Euro VI) and nearly all have low floors.

SUMP planning has started (3C) [12].

3B. Past Performance

Development Plan for Walking and Cycling 2025

In 2012, the City of Lahti drafted a plan to promote walking and cycling. The vision was that in the future, half of the journeys would be made by walking or cycling.

Examples of actions completed or nearly completed:

  • Lower speed limits in the city centre.
  • Separate and clearly marked cycling paths to the city centre.High maintenance of the main cycling network during the winter.
  • Pedestrian city centre.
  • Promoting walking and cycling within the city organization.
  • Additional bicycle racks. By 2017, Lahti will have over 1 100 racks in the city centre.
  • A new high quality bicycle parking facility for 200 bicycles at the Travel Centre.
  • A new cycling map every four years, cycling logo (Fig. B1), Cycling Review and the LahtiMob mobile application.
  • European Mobility Week every year: events such as bicycle hiking events, bicycle auction, free breakfast for cyclists.

Cycling logo

We have an Eco-counter tool in use, which counts and displays a cyclist on an interactive map.


Figure B1. Cycling logo since 2016.

Lahti belongs to the Network of Bicycle Municipalities. The network offers a tool, the Bicycle Compass, to evaluate the general state of bicycling circumstances and development work. The Bicycle Compass considers nine indicators: bicycling policy, monitoring, amount of bicycle traffic, competitiveness of bicycle traffic, infrastructure of a bicycle network, parking of bicycles, safety, satisfaction of the cyclist as well as communication, marketing and campaigns. The evaluation informs the city how to support the enhancement of cycling. The evaluation has been done and partial results are ready (Fig. B2).

Bicycle Compass

Figure B2.The Bicycle Compass is a tool for evaluating bicycling circumstances and development work.


LahtiMob (free-of-charge) includes a description of eight particularly popular cycling routes (Fig. B3). The user can search for the best routes and pin their favourites.

Lahti Mob

Figure B3. LahtiMob mobile application for easy cycling and sightseeing.

Strategic Key Documents for Smart Mobility

  • Lahti City Strategy (2016)*
  • Master Plan (2016)*
  • Transport Policy (2011)*
  • Development Plan for Walking and Cycling 2025 (2012)*
  • Transport System Plan for Päijät-Häme Region
  • Parking Policy of the City CentreTraffic Safety Plan

*Policies and plans consider issues referring to SUMP.

Public Transportation Reform

The city has been organizing public transportation since 2014, enabling time schedules and different modes of transportation to be integrated.

  • Replacing nearly the entire fleet with low-emission buses.
  • Increased frequency of public transportation service (on main rural routes, buses at least every 30 minutes).
  • New routes added (40% increase in kilometres).
  • Nearly all routes go to the market square and Travel Centre.
  • Nearly all buses are low-floor.
  • Free of charge for people with a wheelchair or a walker and their escorts and parents with a pram.
  • Transportation on demand for people with disabilities.

The Lahti Region Public Transport Committee was awarded for its action on account of senior citizens discounted bus ticket arrangements by the City’s Elderly Council in October 2017.

The updating transportation routes were partially based on a questionnaire, i.e. people were asked about their “Dream Bus Route”.

A new Travel Centre in 2015 (Fig. B4), combines railway and bus transportation in the city centre for a smooth transition between the different modes and has parking garages for bicycles and cars (investment 18 M€).

Lahti Travel Centre

Figure B4. Lahti’s new Travel Centre enables local transportation, walking, cycling or cars to be combined with long-distance buses and trains.

City Centre for Sustainable Urban Mobility

The aim is to create a high quality space that would spur walking, cycling and the use of public transportation.

  • Car-free zones (e.g. Lanunaukio in 2007).
  • In 2015, a parking garage, underneath the market square, for 600 cars (investment 20 M€). Removing parking spaces from streets enables the idea of a pedestrian city centre to be developed, as well as the consolidation of the land use.
  • Pedestrian paths widened by taking space from cars.
  • The widened pavements will be used as shared space for pop-up cafeterias, sale points and exhibitions.
  • Separate cycling paths with red asphalt.
  • Aleksanterinkatu Street, as a primarily pedestrian area, was completed in November 2016 (Fig B5. Illustrations by VSU Maisema-arkkitehdit Ltd. The amount of car lanes was decreased from 4 to 1). Investment 3.1 M€.
  • “In 1993, the first questionnaire was developed for bicycling and traffic safety. Someone wished for a bicycle lane on Aleksanterinkatu. At that stage, there were so many cars that it seemed impossible…”.
  • Reduced speed in the city centre (30 km/h).

→ Car traffic to be reduced by at least 4 000 cars (previously 10 000 cars per day).

Aleksanterinkatu Street

Figure B5. Aleksanterinkatu Street before transformation in 2015/2016 (above) and an illustration of the transformed Street (below).

Lahti is testing widening a pedestrian path to 5.5 m (length 200 m) by utilising the car parking space on one side of Rautatienkatu Street. We have been collecting opinions from residents and businesses (until autumn 2017) to assess satisfaction. So far, most of the residents and businesses like the widening idea and would keep it permanently. Street events are arranged on Rautatienkatu and in Lanunaukio. The pedestrian path could be permanently widened in 2018.

Lahti Awarded for Its Cycling and Pedestrian Facilities

Lahti’s Transport Planning Unit received recognition for its work in promoting walking and cycling, when it was granted an award by the national Fit for Life Programme. The jury appreciated the significant and diverse measures Lahti has taken to make cycling and walking an easier and more attractive transport choice.

Sustainable Land Use

The landscape of Lahti sets its own limitations and challenges for transportation infrastructure. The large amount of lakes creates a barrier effect, which complicates offering good public transportation service. However, land use is mostly dense, which enables cycling to be increased considerably.

The City of Lahti has developed a continuous, strategic master plan process with four-year cycles. This enables a strategic long-term view of urban development, while allowing adjustments for pressing short-term development needs and challenges. During each Master Plan cycle, various impacts of the proposed plan are assessed by city officials as well as qualified academic experts (e.g. walking and cycling, children, climate change and ecological networks).

Lahti is focusing on consolidating land use in the city centre and along public transportation routes. Emphasis is on building on brownfields along the railway route and on developing areas for mixed land use. Population density needs to be at least 15 inhab./ha to ensure good public transportation. Example of sustainable consolidating: the Niemi industrial area and the harbour areas have been renewed as mixed-use areas with good public transportation and pedestrian/cycling paths. The population density in Ankkuri (harbour area) is 86-126 inhab./ha.

Lahti is using a new eco-efficiency tool, KEKO. This tool estimates the impact of development plans and plan alternatives on greenhouse gas production, use of natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Lessening Cars

Lahti has no traffic congestion. To promote walking, cycling and the use of public transportation, we:

• Annually celebrate World Car Free Day and have offered discounts for bus tickets on that day, since 2014. In 2015, the amount of trips made with public transportation increased by 17%.
• In 2006, a new railway route was built between Lahti and Helsinki.
• In 2016, electric bicycle test-riding was implemented for local residents and workers, e.g. Mayor Myllyvirta had good experiences with an e-bike.
• To use buses for commuting, the city gave free bus rides to 144 workers from the Department of Technical and Environmental Services, when commuting, for a period of four months.

We acknowledge the challenges of urban freight, but currently have no plans in place to improve its environmental performance.


3C. Future Plans


The previous City Strategy 2025 aimed to double the share of cycling and public transportation in urban areas by 2020 (compared to 2012). After merging with Nastola, a temporary strategy was drafted, which is more general and aims to increase the share of sustainable transportation modes. Considerable changes in transportation are needed to achieve Lahti’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) goal of reducing greenhouse gases by at least 35% per resident by 2020, compared to 1990 emissions.

The Master Plan aims for condensed and mixed land use to reduce the need for transportation, is child friendly and promotes walking and cycling:

1. Improved reachability of working places and services by walking, cycling and public transportation.
2. Improved safety and pleasantness of the urban environment, especially for pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transportation.
3. Developing descriptions and planning instructions for the main road network.
4. Updating the main cycling network according to the Development Plan for Walking and Cycling 2025.

The Transport Policy (2011) aims to reduce the number of cars, improve pedestrian and cycling path networks and reduce greenhouse gases.

The Development Plan for Walking and Cycling 2025 (2012) aims to ensure that walking and cycling in the city is easy. The three strategic goals are:

1. Changing attitudes: to motivate walking and cycling.
2. Urban structure: to reduce distances and bring services within reach of walking and cycling.
3. Infrastructure: to develop networks of walking and cycling paths (Fig. C1).

Main network of cycling

Figure C1. Main network of cycling (and walking) paths for 2025. New planned cycling paths are shown with a dotted line. Click to englarge map.

City Centre for Sustainable Urban Mobility

The street network will undergo a major change (Figs. C2 and C3). Vapaudenkatu Street will be primarily developed for public transportation. Vapaudenkatu’s two-way high-quality cycling path will be lengthened. Rautatienkatu Street will be further developed as a pedestrian zone. Most of the car traffic will be directed to an outer “circle” of the city centre, lessening the traffic inside the circle (see also Fig. A1). This enables additional separated cycling paths to be constructed (e.g. along Vesijärvikatu Street). Public transportation will be supported by offering bus lanes for one of the currently busiest streets in the centre.

Road network in 2020.

Figure C2. Road network in 2020. The city centre is developed towards a pedestrian zone.

 Foreseen main cycling network in the city centre 2020

Figure C3. The foreseen main cycling network in the city centre, in 2020.

Special Focus on Traffic Emissions and Sustainable Urban Mobility

Our future challenge is to stop the increase of traffic emissions. Special emphasis will now be placed on integrating the sustainable mobility plan (SUMP) into the city Spatial Master Plan 2017-2020, which creates the analytic city-wide framework for cutting CO2 emissions from the traffic sector, e.g. by 1) improving the bicycle infrastructure, 2) finding smarter and low-carbon solutions for public transportation and 3) increasing pedestrian-friendly spaces in Lahti's urban cores.

SUMP development plan for 2017-2020:

  • Analysation of the present state, setting of vision and targets.
  • Efficient action plan.
  • 2019 Responsibilities and financing, monitoring and evaluation.
  • 2020 Introduction and communication, lessons to be learned for the next round.

As a part of SUMP, an evaluation of the current state of mobility was carried out by arranging numerous workshops (Fig. C4) with different stakeholders and by using the “Porukka” application.

Co-creation process of the Master Plan and SUMP

Figure C4. SUMP and the Master Plan of Lahti 2017-2020 are co-created with its citizens.

Intelligent Transportation Systems

We are piloting a real-time information system for public transportation. Later, this can be combined with traffic signals to prioritize public transportation at junctions.

CitiCAP Project for Smart & Sustainable Mobility

We received funding from the UIA 2nd Call (2017-2020) for the CitiCAP proposal to:

  • Co-create and implement a Personal Carbon Trading (PCT) scheme to reduce traffic emissions.
  • Build a new model for the SUMP process for integrating the traffic and spatial master planning processes.
  • Develop a light and replicable mobility data platform to implement the PCT.

Directing Lorry Traffic Away from the City Centre

Constructing a bypass (Main Road 12) that will allow passing cars and especially lorry transportation to be directed away from the city centre. Constructing the bypass allows new land use possibilities. The cost is 300 M€, with Lahti's share equalling 77 M€.

Promoting Cycling with National Programmes

The project “Paths to Sustainable Mobility Services” studies possibilities for car-sharing, city bicycles and safe bicycle parking in cooperation with a few other cities [18].

Winter Biking (Fig. C5)

During winter 2016/2017, Lahti tested new, more rounded grain sand (friendlier to bicycle tires) on a pedestrian/cycling path from the Travel Centre to the market square.

Winter cycling

Figure C5. We promote winter biking with special road maintenance practices and citizen campaigns.

Alternative Fuels

A long-term preliminary decision had been made for public transportation buses to be changed to electric buses and, in other logistics, for the share of biogas cars to be increased. 6 new charging points for electric cars are planned.



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