Tartu Freedom from Cars Avenue, Source: Mana Kaasik / ERR

Welcome to Freedom from Cars Avenue in Tartu

Welcome to Freedom from Cars Avenue in Tartu

A section of the busy Freedom Avenue has been converted into a leisure zone for a month

Sometimes you can do without a drastic name change – adding just a preposition will make the difference. As proof positive, on Friday, 3 July, a section of central Tartu thoroughfare Vabaduse puiestee (Freedom Avenue) became Autovabaduse puiestee (Freedom from Cars or Car-free Avenue). Traffic is rerouted and the section will remain a pedestrian leisure space for a month, till 2 August.

Strengthening the sense of unity in a pleasant way  

According to the city government’s press release, the goal of Autovabaduse puiestee is to revitalize the city center, connect the Emajõgi River and the heart of the city, offer interesting leisure opportunities, bring different generations together and strengthen the sense of unity after a state of emergency.

Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas explained that since most scheduled public events had been cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus, the city government decided to offer the Tartu people the opportunity to gather in the city center and enjoy the summer and each other's company in an unexpected environment - in the middle of the roadway. 

“After the difficult start of the year, we want to offer people joy and a pleasant urban space. We are creating an environment that would bring more people to the city centre, and with the revitalization of the area, visitors will also get to the cafes and restaurants there,” said Klaas.

Everyone who wants to have a good time in the city centre is welcome to the new car-free avenue – to enjoy the unique urban environment, hold outdoor meetings or take part in various activities. A host of attractions, tailored to different tastes, awaits visitors: a meeting area, a beach bar, a labyrinth of swings, a street reading room, street food caravans, a picnic area, a ping pong table, a market square and a flea market, nature house and art museum programs, workshops, street cinema and much more.

Coronavirus precautions in place

Despite the super low infection rate in Estonia, authorities urge caution. Accordingly, the whole space of Autovabaduse puiestee has been designed taking into account the 2 + 2 social distancing rule. Signs on the asphalt and in green zones remind visitors to observe it. To avoid crowding, entertainment programs have not been announced. 

Freedom from Cars Avenue is an initiative of Tartu city government and Tartu 2024 Foundation, implemented with the key support of entrepreneurs, cultural and educational institutions. And if townspeople and guests respond well to the new leisure opportunity, it can become a tradition.



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