Helsinki is one of many places in the world who are making an effort to go green by cutting down on the amount of driving that is going on. The city on the Gulf of Finland has not been the most popular location for tourists in the area, but the city is undergoing some major changes that could alter this as well. Their goal is to eliminate cars altogether by the year 2050. Other cities with the same goal include Paris, Madrid, Copenhagen, and Dublin.
The Finnish lifestyle is already a bit skewed toward healthy living as it is. According to Melanie Dower of Hey Helsinki:
“The Finnish lifestyle is unconsciously green in that people live in a low-impact way and tend to eat seasonal, locally foraged food.”
Forty-seven percent of the city is already made up of green spaces, and they are planning to turn more of the motorways into residential areas as part of a “boulevardization” that is a part of their urban planning model.
To increase the public transportation options, the cities plans to open new metro lines and double the amount of trams that there are currently. They will also launch a bike share program that will include 50 stations and 500 bikes, which will be available to be used by May of 2016. They will also increase the costs of parking to cut down on the incentives to drive.
This is all going on at a time when the city is also growing tremendously, and might add a quarter of a million residents within the foreseeable future.
Ville Lehmuskoski, Managing Director at Helsinki City Transport discussed the changing landscape of the city’s transportation.
“We can’t put more cars on streets. The answer in the inner city is public transport by rail—trams and the metro. When Helsinki grows, public transport has to grow with it.”
According to local Helsinki resident Karri Korppi:
“Already in the last 10 to 15 years, I have seen a welcoming change when afternoon rush hour has little by little disappeared with more public transport connections in and around the city. I do have a driving license but I drive the car some five times a year when I need to move some bigger items from one place to another. Those times I can get a vehicle from city car share.”
In addition the changes being made with the cars, Helsinki is also offering a lot more sustainable options for tourists to take part in again. There are tour companies in the city that offer walking options to see the sites as opposed to taking a car, and there are also a variety of hotels making eco friendly choices. Restaurants with seasonally driven menus are also popular and cut down on the amount of food that needs to be shipped in from far off places.