The current urban structure is primarily inherited from the 1950s-1970s. The population has grown since 1975. The road network was developed for cars. Major car transportation routes cut almost through the city centre. There are 468 cars per 1 000 residents in Lahti. The cold climate and hilly landscape favour motorization. Nevertheless the city has an ambitious aim to reduce the car mode share with 17% by 2030. (Fig. A1).
Before 2014 public transportation was operated by private companies subsidized by the city. Transferring responsibility to the city allows flexibility in the public transportation system reformation and redesign. In 2015, 81,3% of residents lived in a pedestrian/public transportation zone (Tab.1). The goal is to double the public transit ridership by 2030 (Fig. A1). During winter weekdays, 98 buses are in service of which 77 are two-axle, 18 multi-axle and 3 minibuses. We are currently piloting a real-time information system for public transportation. Later, this will be combined with traffic signals to prioritize public transportation at junctions. VR, a state-owned railway company, serves multiple destinations to and from Lahti. In 2016, about 2.15 million travels from and to Lahti were made on rail.
Lahti has a large cycling network (Fig. C1) with 532 km of combined pedestrian and cycling paths (2016) that are of good quality (i.e. wide, separated from cars, quality asphalt). The share of pedestrians is high (Fig. A1) which is due to the compact urban structure, with 75 % of the population living within 5 km from the city centre. The city is currently planning the construction of a smart bicycle highway as part of the UIA-funded CitiCAP project. Current mode split of cycling is 9%. The goal is to achieve 20% by 2030 (Fig. A1).
The greatest share of journeys is made within Lahti and its neighbouring municipalities Hollola, Orimattila and Asikkala. (Figs. A2, A3). Daily over 2 000 cars enter Lahti from nearby areas and over 4 000 cars leave Lahti. The most common destination from the Lahti Region is Helsinki (Fig. A2), and 2nd the Capital Region (over 11 000 trips). Lahti has excellent train connections: Helsinki (1 h), Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (1 h) and St Petersburg (2.5 h).
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. The Lahti Group owns 8 electric cars, 35 biogas cars and electric bicycles. Lahti has 10 public charging stations for electric cars, with some free of charge. Lahti Aqua Ltd and Päijät-Häme Waste Management Ltd produce biogas, with 1 public gas station.
In 2014, Lahti replaced almost the entire public transportation fleet (Fig. A4). Now 87% of the city’s buses are low emission buses (86% Euro VI, 1% Euro V).
Strategic Key Documents for Smart Mobility
• Transport Policy (2011)*
• Development Plan for Walking and Cycling 2025 (2012)*
• Transport System Plan for Päijät-Häme Region (2013)
• Parking Policy of the City Centre (2014)
• Master Plan (2016)*
• Traffic Safety Plan (2017)
*Policies and plans consider issues on sustainable urban mobility before SUMP process was initiated..
Transport policy 2011
The Transport Policy was drafted to reduce the number of cars, improve pedestrian and cycling path networks and reduce greenhouse gases.
Development Plan for Walking and Cycling 2025
In 2012, the City of Lahti drafted a plan to promote walking and cycling. By 2030, 45% of the journeys will be made by walking or cycling.
Examples of actions completed or in action:
• Lower speed limits in the city centre.
• Separate and clearly marked cycling paths in the city centre.
• High maintenance of the main cycling network during winter.
• Walkable city centre.
• Additional bicycle racks. Lahti has by now over 1 100 racks in the city centre.
• High quality parking facility for 200 bicycles at the Travel Centre.
• New cycling map every four years, logo (Fig. B1) and Cycling Review.
• Events during European Mobility Week annually.
We use the Eco-counter tool to count and display the amount of cyclists on an interactive map.
Lahti belongs to the Network of Bicycle Municipalities, which offers a tool to evaluate the state of bicycling circumstances and development. The Bicycle Compass considers nine indicators: policy, monitoring, amount of bicycle traffic, competitiveness, infrastructure, parking, safety, satisfaction as well as communications. The evaluation informs the city how to promote cycling. The first evaluation was done in 2017 and the results are represented in the figure B2. There is a need for clear policy and strategies, including communication, to improve cycling conditions in the city.
The city has organized public transportation since 2014. Reforms include:
• 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 transportation route updates were partially based on a questionnaire inquiring about the citizen’s “Dream Bus Routes”.The Lahti Region Public Transport Committee was awarded by the City’s Elderly Council, in October 2017, for its senior citizens discounted bus ticket arrangements.
Lahti’s Travel Centre opened in 2015 (Fig. B3), combining railway and bus transportation, enabling smooth transition between the different modes and offering parking garages for bicycles and cars (investment 18 M€).
The aim is to create a high-quality space that will spur walking, cycling and the use of public transportation. Actions taken:
• Car-free zones (e.g. Lanunaukio in 2007).
• In 2015, a parking garage, underneath the market square, for 600 cars (investment 20 M€).
• Pedestrian paths widened by taking space from cars.
• Widened pavements will be used as shared space for pop-up cafeterias, sale points and exhibitions.
• Separate cycling paths with red asphalt.
• Aleksanterinkatu Street, transformation into a primarily pedestrian area, was completed in November 2016 (Fig B4.). Car lanes ware reduced from 4 to 1. Investment 3.1 M€. . The transformation was successful, today the share of pedestrians is over 60%.
• Reduced speed in the city centre (30 km/h).
Lahti is piloting widening a pedestrian path to 5.5 m (length 200 m) on one side of Rautatienkatu Street by utilising the car parking space. According to questionnaires directed to residents and businesses the widening could be made permanent. The current decision allows keeping the widening until the end of 2019. According to the latest City traffic counts the share of pedestrians is 6 times higher than cars. Popular street events are arranged on Rautatienkatu and in Lanunaukio.
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 choi1e.
Lahti’s landscape sets its own limitations and challenges for transportation infrastructure. The large amount of lakes creates a barrier effect, which hampers offering good public transportation service. However, the urban core is dense which enables increasing the modal split for cycling.
The City of Lahti has developed a continuous master plan process with four-year cycles. This enables a strategic long-term view of urban development, simultaneously 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 focuses 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. For instance, 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 an eco-efficiency tool, KEKO. This tool estimates the impact of the urban plans on greenhouse gas emissions, use of natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Lahti has no traffic congestion. To promote walking, cycling and the use of public transportation, we:
• Annually celebrate World Car Free Day and offer discounts for bus tickets on that day, since 2014.
• 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 Timonen had good experiences with an e-bike.
• To encourage the use of buses for commuting, the city gave free bus rides to 144 commuters from the Department of Technical and Environmental Services for a period of four months.
• In 2018 the city was awarded for the first time an employer for being “The frontrunner in commuting in the Lahti region”. The commencement is part of the “Wise Commuter” project initiated by the Finnish Transportation Agency.
We acknowledge the challenges of urban freight, but currently have no plans in place to improve its environmental performance.
Lahti adopted its new City Strategy in 2018. The strategy highlights the need for mobility transformation. One of the accepted key projects is “naturally mobile” to additionally support the sustainable urban mobility development of the city center (Budget €500k). See Figs. C2 and C3.
The Master Plan aims to reduce the need for transportation and promotes walking, cycling and public transport:
1. Improved accessibility of workplaces and services.
2. Improved safety and comfortability of the urban environment.
3. Developing planning instructions for the main road network.
4. Updating the main cycling network according to the Development Plan for Walking and Cycling 2025 (Fig. C1).
First Sustainable urban mobility plan (SUMP) is currently under development. Strategic aim is to increase the share of sustainable transportation to 55% by 2030.
Our future challenge is to prevent the increase in traffic emissions. Special emphasis is now placed on integrating a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) into the spatial master plan. This creates a city-wide framework for cutting CO2 emissions, 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 core.
SUMP development plan 2017-2020:
1. 2017: Analysing the present state, setting of vision and targets has been done. An evaluation of the current state of mobility was carried out by arranging numerous workshops in 2017-2018 (Fig. C4) with different stakeholders and by using the “Porukka” application.
2. 2018: Efficient action plan is being developed.
3. 2019: Responsibilities and financing, monitoring and evaluation.
4. 2020: Introduction and communication, lessons to be learned for the next round.
The street network will undergo a major change (Figs. C2 and C3). Vapaudenkatu Street will be primarily reserved for public transportation. Vapaudenkatu’s two-way high-quality cycling path will be lengthened. 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 Vesijärvenkatu Street). Public transportation will be supported by creating bus lanes on the busiest street of the centre.
The city has started drafting an action plan to promote sustainable and healthy commuting among its employees, based on workshop results and a questionnaire conducted on commuting habits. 1200 answered the questionnaire and 88% of the respondents said the city should support sustainable mobility.
1. Public transportation ticket
2. Work from home arrangements
3. Renewed parking policy
Lahti has started redesigning the public transport network in 2018. The goal is to make public transport more attractive. Actions include:
1. Design of the trunk bus network
2. Assessment of possibilities on new mobility services
Lahti has utilitized innovative ways to analyse the current situation, such as map based questionnaire for public and movement data produced by telecommunication company Telia. The design process will be finished by the end of 2018 and implemented by 2022.
1. Be the first city to implement a Personal Carbon Trading (PCT) scheme for mobility to reduce traffic emissions.
2. Develop an open mobility data platform to implement the PCT.
3. Support the SUMP process with a focus on participation.
4. Construct a 2,5 km long smart bicycle highway.
Constructing a bypass (Main Road 12) that will allow passing cars and especially lorry transportation to be directed away from the city centre and allows new land use possibilities. The cost is 300 M€, with Lahti's share equalling 77 M€.
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.
During winters 2018 and 2019 Lahti will trial new winter maintenance measures, such as salt brushing.
A long-term preliminary decision has been made for buses to be changed to electric. In logistics the share of biogas cars will be increased. 6 new charging points for electric cars are planned.