Tallinn in the News March 2018

Free Public Transport gets hot in time for the international conference in Tallinn

The International conference, Free public transport for all “Dream and reality”,taking place in Tallinn from 9 May to 12 May 2018 has been planned for some time. Now, and with impeccable timing, the issue of free public transport has exploded into public consciousness.

In February 2018, Germany made an announcement of a plan to introduced free public transport in five cities including former capital Bonn to reduce pollution and avoid EU big fines before the year is out.
The international conference will have Boris Palmer the Mayor of Tübingen and Detlef Tabbert Mayor of Templin.

The northern French town of Dunkirk switches to free public transport in September 2018. Mayor of Dunkirk Patrice Vergriete will be one of the speakers at the conference.

“Not only are we redistributing spending power, but we are getting rid of inequalities by providing better access to jobs and leisure facilities,” Vergriete said in Le Parisien.

To date, 15 towns in France have scrapped fees on their public transport networks completely. The small town of Compiegne near Paris led the way in 1975, and gradually, other, larger towns followed suit.
Free Public Transport is an issue that can raise passions in some parts of the World. In 2014 there were riots demanding free public transport in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Guest speaker Daniel Santini will be at the conference to discuss the situation now.

Proponents of free public transport say the scheme encourages people to use public transport instead of cars; that they can boost economic activity in the town centres and that they can provide a viable long-term solution for the car-free cities of the future.

The benefits include not only reduced pollution but increased mobility for people on lower incomes. The conference will be a chance to see how far these goals have been achieved in Tallinn and what can be done to help cities that face different challenges.

Tallinn remains the biggest city to introduce free public transport. Other speakers at the conference will come from Sweden, Poland, Italy and Lithuania.

Now citizens can plan Tallinn thanks to a new mobile app

One of the projects featured at the 14th Days of Estonian Cities and Rural Municipalities was the Interactive app Open City (AvaLinn) which allows citizens to get involved in city planning.

A pilot project was launched in North Tallinn and in the Telliskivi Quarter in late 2017. City planners say the app gives a real opportunity to consider the views of the people who live in an area.

“With this mobile application, we are experimenting with inclusion in a new non-bureaucratic way, this tool makes it easier for both the city and the end user. This, of course, does not replace the legal requirements, but supplements it,” said Jaak-Adam Looveer, of the Urban Planning Department, who is the lead on this project.

“All public space and street projects should in future be designed with public opinion, as they often affect a larger number of people,” Looveer said.

Looveer pointed out that not just in Tallinn but all over the World people want to get involved in how their urban spaces are planned.

“Society is very interested in this. We have already had a big public debate in Tallinn about major projects. Reducing bureaucracy should be a regular activity for inclusion in the public debate on street projects,” Looveer added.

There are 29 so-called explanatory points making urban spaces understandable to everyone. The information points have added photos of the current situation next to the vision of the future, with illustrations done by architect Ahti Sepsivaart.

“It’s possible to position yourself with a point of engagement when moving around in the area so you can more precisely understand the space you are designing,” Looveer added.

North Tallinn where the pilot is taking place is envisioned as a people-friendly public space, geared towards walking, bicycle riding, and use of public transport.
“When the pilot project ends, we plan to use it in the future for all major public space and street projects, ” Looveer said.

AvaLinn was developed by the Baltic Urban Lab with funding from the EU through the Central Baltic Program.

Tallinn to participate in the international inclusive urban planning projects

The city government has decided to propose to the city council to participate in the project “Augmented Urban”

The project’s goal is to deal with those areas of the city which have 110kV high voltage overhead lines.
In the next five years, the city plans to replace most overhead lines with underground cables which will result in freeing up 50-metre-wide city spaces in places with hitherto limited access.

“We must consider the general well-being and quality of life of citizens when we develop public spaces freeing them up from overhead lines,” Deputy Mayor Andrei Novikov said.

“Overhead lines connect different establishment neighbourhood living and workplace, also valuable green areas.
“Freeing up the corridor could improve the quality of life through the deployment of sustainable mobility in the city area and the strengthening of the functionally of the green corridor,” Novikov said.

The projects end goal is to come up with a comprehensive solution for Tallinn which is environmentally friendly and comfortable for residents.

The project funding will be 85 percent covered by the EU through the Central Baltic Programme.
The project is composed of 10 partners, of which six are from local government (Tallinn, Riga, Viimsi County, Cesis, Helsinki, Gävle) and four research institutions (Tallinn University, Stockholm University, Gävle University,  Metropolia University, Helsinki)

During the whole process, specialists from each country will work with each other to solve problems.

Jaan Kross, one of Estonia’s greatest writers to be honoured

Tallinn city government has endorsed a proposal to set up a commemorative mark for Estonian writer Jaan Kross. The commemorative mark is due in 2020 to mark the 100-year anniversary of Jaan Kross’s birth. The proposal had cross-party support.

Kross is perhaps Estonia’s best-known writer international, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize several times but died before he had a chance to receive it.

He was imprisoned by both the Nazis and the Soviets and spent several years in a Soviet Gulag where he did hard labour in a mine. He did not return to Estonia until 1954.

Kross wrote historical novels dealing with the nature of identity, belonging, loyalty and love. His books were acknowledged by the Nobel committee as having a wide appeal and universal themes which speak of the human condition. His best-known work international is the Czar’s Madman and his best-known work in Estonia is Wikman Boys, about his school days.