The FinnCycle research project, which began in January, studies the implementation of the next major development leap in cycling in Finland. The aim of the study is to establish cycling as part of the urban transport system. Turku participates in the study carried out by Tampere University Transport Research Centre Verne together with 12 other Finnish cities.

In Turku, as elsewhere in Finland, it has been found that one of the biggest challenges in achieving the emission targets, is emissions produced by transport. Supporting sustainable active mobility is the surest way to help the green transition. Although cities have received money to improve cycling conditions, cycling is still not seen as a genuine alternative to public transport and private cars.

- Cycling is often thought of only as a form of exercise, even though it should be seen as part of the transport system, as a form of everyday transport, says Harri Vaarala, PhD researcher at the University of Tampere, who leads the FinnCycle project.

The research project focuses on producing Finnish cycling-related information to support decision-makers, authorities and traffic planners in their work to promote cycling. The study compares the prerequisites for promoting cycling in Finnish cities with European good practices.

Functional infrastructure and winter maintenance threshold issues

Climate change, urbanisation and inactivity of the population are compelling reasons to promote cycling in cities. For more and more people to choose bicycles for their everyday travels, cities should have high-quality infrastructure for bicycle traffic, a transport network that favours it and functional winter maintenance.

- In recent years, cycling conditions in Turku have been improved at an accelerating pace. For example, hundreds of new bike racks have been installed in the city centre, and last year the first streets prioritising bicycles were completed in Turku. In addition, new cycle paths are planned for Itäinen Rantakatu and Itäinen Pitkäkatu. The popularity of new city bikes, on the other hand, indicates the residents' interest in cycling, says Taneli Pärssinen, traffic planning engineer at the City of Turku.

According to Harri Vaarala, cycling measures that should be priorities include isfor bicycling to have its own safe place in traffic and to enable year-round biking.

- Intersections and parking also require attention. In general, the entire travel chain should be planned on a long-term basis, he emphasises. 

The main themes of the FinnCycle research project are the quality of cycling infrastructure, a cycling-friendly transport network, seasonal variation in cycling traffic and long-term transport policy.

The study will last until June 2025. The Finnish Transport Research Centre Verne carries out research and development work in close cooperation with the 13 pioneering Finnish cities funding the project. The project partners are Helsinki, Hyvinkää, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kokkola, Kuopio, Lahti, Oulu, Pori, Rauma, Tampere, Turku and Vaasa.