“The status analysis took more time and effort than we expected, but it certainly was one of the most fruitful parts of the planning process”, says Mikko Laaksonen who edited the report in Turku. He works as a promoter of walking and cycling in the city planning office. The team collected, collated and drew conclusions on basic data under each Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan benchmark from sources that were already available from the city’s own files, the Regional Council of Southwest Finland and research by the Turku School of Economics and the University of Turku.
Laaksonen says the results of the self-assessment report weren’t unexpected. “We found a lot of gaps, as we had expected. But it was surprising that the situation was moving in a more non-sustainable direction than we thought. Almost all the drivers showed that the city, in sailing terms, would soon hit the rocks if we stayed on this track.”
The self-assessment report of 108 pages was condensed into a summary of 17 pages for the use of internal communication and dissemination of the results to stakeholders and the media. The full report was sent to the peer review team, which carried on building the picture of the state of sustainable transport. The peer review finally crystalised the challenges. They were: planning that favours hypermarkets, urban sprawl and a lack of regional cooperation due to competition among neighbouring municipalities.
A positive finding was the fact that Turku has a relatively compact structure and every possibility to further develop sustainable urban transport. At the time of the report, about 50 percent of the trips were made by sustainable modes. “The city needs to recognise these strengths. If Turku followed its strategies, it would be a model city of sustainable transport. Implementation should be as ambitious as the strategies”. The self-assessment and the peer review both helped those involved to understand the state of the city and the challenges lying ahead.