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This year, Car-Free Avenue will create a new urban space experience for all road users

Tartu City Government Press Release

Ratturid Autovabaduse puiesteel Photo: Maanus Kullamaa

31 March / Car-Free Avenue will expand this year in terms of both time and space. During the course of the project, which will last for almost five months, temporary bicycle paths will be created from the Delta Centre building to the Vaksali Bridge, ensuring an urban space that is pleasant and safe for all groups of road users. As in the previous two years, a leisure area will be built on Vabaduse Avenue, where a diverse cultural programme will be organised in the summer.

‘According to research, only 13 per cent of Tartu residents would like to travel by car every day if the conditions for other modes of transport were better. This year’s Car-Free Avenue will provide an excellent opportunity to test how the residents of Tartu behave when they are given greater freedom of choice in their daily movements. The project will also contribute to meeting climate goals, as the amounts of both noise and air pollution on the streets of the busy city centre will be reduced,’ said Mayor Urmas Klaas.

Tartu City Architect Tõnis Arjus added that the project will focus on the public space of the city’s main streets, where it is important to improve both conditions for local residents and the spatial experience of those passing through. ‘The project is a testing platform, with which we research and analyse, listen to feedback and think about how future investments would support an ever better living environment,’ said Arjus.

At the beginning of summer, temporary bicycle lanes – separated from cars and pedestrians – will be built along Riia Street and Vabaduse Avenue. From the Vaksali Bridge towards the city centre, 1+1 lanes will remain on Riia Street for cars, next to which there will be bicycle lanes running in the same direction as the traffic and a speed limit of 30 km/h will be established.

Vabaduse Avenue will be divided into two parts: the river side will be converted into an attractive public space, cars will have a 1+1 lane for traffic from the Riia-Turku intersection and a speed limit of 30 km/h will be established. In addition, additional crossings will be built along Vabaduse Avenue.

From 17 June through 14 August, a weekend cultural programme will take place on Vabaduse Avenue, a food market will be opened, street food trucks will operate, and familiar outdoor furniture from previous years will be reused in the area. During the programme and events, this section of Vabaduse Avenue will be closed to motorised vehicles and the street will remain open only to non-motorised road users.

The aim of Car-Free Avenue is to merge the heart of the city and the area around the Emajõgi River into a single whole, to separate different groups of road users in order to ensure safe movement, and to enliven the summer heart of the city. Cooperation will take place with local undertakings to help create a pleasant living and working environment on the main streets of Tartu.

Preparatory works for Car-Free Avenue will begin in May of this year, and the new spatial solution will remain in place until the end of September. Different types of data will be collected during the project, and people’s experiences will be evaluated when making permanent spatial decisions in the future.

Car-Free Avenue is being organised by the City of Tartu, Visit Tartu, SA Tartu 2024, Tiigi Society House, Tartu Market, and city centre undertakings.

Last changed 06.04.2022