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Finland’s first restriction-based micro-mobility parking network in centre of Helsinki

Sweco contributes to Finland’s first restriction-based micro-mobility parking network in centre of Helsinki

New parking restrictions for shared micro-mobility equipment were introduced in the centre of Helsinki in early summer 2023. Sweco’s sustainable mobility team designed new parking spaces aimed at alleviating the harm caused by the free parking of this equipment. The popularity and number of shared micro-mobility equipment, such as electric scooters, has risen significantly in recent years, and the challenges they pose are increasingly debated. This is why the City of Helsinki decided to restrict parking and the number of electric scooters in its city centre.

The new parking solution is based on the City’s design guidelines and draft parking network. Its aim is to guide users to park their equipment in the intended areas. This will ensure accessible passage to pedestrians, especially people with reduced mobility, children and the elderly. Designated parking spots will help prevent electric scooters from being scattered around the pavement or elsewhere, leading to a more organised and pleasant urban environment.

The new parking solution is based on a stopping prohibition area, which is marked by textual traffic signs around the boundaries of the city centre. The boundary of the restricted area runs along Hesperian esplanade, Pitkäsilta bridge and Lauttasaari bridge. Within this area, shared micro-mobility equipment may not be parked outside the designated locations. The parking locations in the area are indicated with painted markings, racks and traffic signs. Additionally, they are displayed by applications of companies that provide micro-mobility services and are limited by a GPS boundary that directs parking to the right locations.

The design of the parking network endeavoured to take into account the way in which micro-mobility services work, i.e. that users are able to start and end their journey as close to their destination as possible. In practice this means that the parking network design is quite dense in places. In fact, the area has a total of around 250 parking spots. The design of the parking network factors in locations that generate mobility needs, such as workplaces and services. The design of the micro-mobility services’ parking network is guided by similar principles as those we have used in creating city bike station networks in previous years: The future of city bike systems remains bright – Sweco Finland.

‘The measures taken in previous seasons have not been effective enough in managing the issues, which is why we decided to prohibit free parking in the city centre. In close cooperation with Sweco, we managed to create a comprehensive parking solution, which we hope will significantly reduce the harm caused by parking electric scooters in the coming season,’ says project planner and transport engineer Miikka Kulpakko from the City of Helsinki.

More careful planning of parking spaces required coordination

There is, of course, little ‘free’ space available in dense urban areas, which is why the effects of a design on the surrounding space and activities must be taken into account when deciding on the parking spot locations. The most functional places have often been allocated to bicycle parking, city bikes or other functions, so finding space for micro-mobility equipment can be challenging. In addition, parking should guide users to use the equipment in accordance with the Road Traffic Act, either in the bicycle lane or on the road. Out of the 250 locations, approximately 130 were placed on the roadway in designated parking spots, while the rest were positioned at the edges of squares, between street trees and in central reservations. The guiding principle of the design was to find locations that do not hinder pedestrian, bicycle or other traffic. The solution aimed to ensure that every parking area is always accessible directly from the bicycle lane or the road.

‘During the first summer of testing the system, it has seemed that the electric scooters have stayed in a much better order than before. This is probably a result of the clearly marked parking spaces, the parking restrictions and a smaller number of scooters in the centre,’ says Sweco’s sustainable mobility project manager Eeropekka Lehtinen.

Helsinki’s parking solution is Finland’s first example of how the parking of micro-mobility equipment can be systematically steered into a desired direction through restrictions. The legislation on micro-mobility was actively discussed in spring 2023. The Ministry of Transport and Communications published an assessment memorandum on the possible restrictions on micro-mobility equipment and potential needs for legislative changes. Helsinki’s parking solution is difficult to create and new restrictions are required. However, Helsinki’s example shows that it is already possible to restrict the parking of micro-mobility equipment under the existing law.

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