The Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson replied to the interpellation concerning the national level promotion of bicycle use (No. 446), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Yoko Alender, Meelis Mälberg, Heidy Purga, Peep Aru, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Lauri Luik, Taavi Rõivas, Urmas Kruuse, Valdo Randpere, Aivar Surva, Ants Laaneots, Jüri Jaanson, Toomas Kivimägi, Marko Mihkelson, Jürgen Ligi, Artur Talvik, Kalle Palling and Arto Aas on 17 September.
The interpellators referred to the fact that the Bill intended to improve the safety of riding a bicycle would soon be presented to the Riigikogu as a public initiative. The interpellators pointed out that, unfortunately, Estonia had been modest in promoting the use of bicycles so far, and therefore they wished to know when the issue would begin to be addressed at the national level.
Simson explained that the development of cycle tracks and footpaths had begun in the EU financial period 2007–2013, when a total of 43 million euro had been invested for that purpose, 36 million euro of which had been European Union co-financing. The construction of cycle tracks and footpaths had been started with projects that contributed to the construction of cycle tracks and footpaths in the surrounding areas of cities. The aim had been to develop connections between centres and rear areas, and to increase the proportion of the users of sustainable modes of movement. Simson said that similar funding and a similar programme was continuing in the period 2014–2020.
Simson stated that a combined cycle track and footpath was definitely not of the same quality for cyclists as a cycle track, because cyclists, segways and pedestrians could move there. “However, it must be kept in mind that this is a sufficiently balanced alternative in the surrounding areas of cities at the moment, considering the traffic density. If the demand increases, in the future, separate cycle tracks may also be necessary in the surrounding areas of cities,” the minister said.
Simson noted that the ministry, in cooperation with partners, was drawing up the national transport and mobility development plan 2021+, which discussed the development trends of cycle transport and described the role of the state in promoting the use of bicycles in cities. “The EU financial period 2021+ also strongly supports the development of sustainable mobility. It prioritises better integration of different types of transport, and a mobility policy based on people’s needs,” Simson explained. She added that it was indeed expedient to begin the construction of separate cycle tracks in larger cities. “First of all because cities have a higher traffic density and thereby also a higher proportion of potential bicycle users, and the greatest positive impact on the environment, health and air pollution. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is working to draw up the development plan 2021+,” the minister noted.
Today’s development plan mainly sees the potential of bicycle use as a part of urban mobility, including as a need for convenient connection with other modes of movement, enabling smooth and convenient combination of different modes of movement. This has also been mentioned from the aspect of traffic safety: the need to ensure a safe traffic environment for all road users and of course for cyclists.
During the open microphone, Märt Sults took the floor.
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