More people on the street means more customers and economic activity

The quality and vitality of a street can be measured in the number of people spending time along it, the amount of time they spend there, businesses’ turnover as well as the number of cyclists present. The more room there is for bikes, the more there is room for everything.

It is crucial to ensure access to a greater number of people: more people means more customers, and it is cyclists and pedestrians that bring more customers into businesses. Someone sitting in a car isn’t considered an active addition to a street, and is not actually economically beneficial to the city. Tallinn must follow the example set by other Nordic and European cities and develop its streets to keep up with the demands and growing population of the times — this is what both city residents who want a safe living environment as well as businesses troubled by lack of customers expect.

If we look at the data, we can see that 80 per cent of turnover seen by businesses in Helsinki’s city centre comes from customers who did not arrive by car (source: Ramboll study, link in Finnish).

There are plenty of examples of the direct economic benefits of cycle tracks, ranging from small towns to big cities, in warm climates as well as cold ones.

Economic expert Kristjan Lepik and urban strategist Pärtel-Peeter Pere published an opinion piece (link in Estonian) on the subject in spring 2021. This piece sparked the establishment of the Living Street movement and nonprofit, which counts Estonian unicorns Bolt and Skeleton Technologies among its founding members.