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Helsinki, Finland

‘Summer streets’ to enliven Helsinki’s city centre

‘Summer streets’ to enliven Helsinki’s city centre

The Finnish capital plans to make more space for pedestrians, outdoor dining areas, and greenery

This summer, residents and tourists in Helsinki will have the opportunity to explore the Finnish capital in a more comfortable way as the municipality will reserve several streets solely for pedestrians. More specifically, it will transform four streets in the Kaartinkaupungi area into “summer streets” from the beginning of June until the end of August.

As the area should facilitate the movement of pedestrians, the city will redirect traffic and make changes to other factors that currently obstruct it. What is more, it will make extra space not only for people to walk around but also for local businesses to expand their services.

Map of Helsinki's summer streets
A map of the 2022 summer streets (Source: City of Helsinki)

Building on previous success

It is important to note that the capital tested out ‘summer streets’ around Kasarmintori in 2021. At the time, it added wooden seating areas, plants, and frame-locked bicycle racks to the area. In addition, it opened up extra space for restaurants to install parklet terraces for outdoor dining.

According to the City of Helsinki, this transformation of the capital’s streets received positive feedback from both pedestrians and entrepreneurs. The experiment found that twice as many people visited the streets in the area in June-August 2021, compared to May when there were no ‘summer streets’.

Project Manager Henna Hovi expanded on the feedback of the residents and businesses, noting that entrepreneurs were especially pleased with the experiment as the increased flow of people proved beneficial to them. Deputy Mayor of the Urban Environment Industry Anni Sinnemäki commented on the idea behind the ‘summer streets’, sharing:

“Summer streets are also an excellent implementation of the city’s new strategy. The strategy clearly outlines how we must invest in a good urban space, which invites us to linger and stay, and also creates conditions for the success of commercial services.”

The municipality will hold several workshops over the next two months to brainstorm ideas, find partners, and decide on the designs of the four streets.

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