The City of Helsinki trusts people’s attention and future street markings.
I stop the tram opens its doors next to Tripla, and from the inside a group of Finns dressed in equally dark tones splash in dark weather.
Seconds later, on the same Ratapihankatu, a faster-than-sound cyclist whispers downhill. No one collides, but it’s close.
Exciting moments are lived every day on the outskirts of Pasila train station. The same stretch of street is used by both pedestrians and cyclists driving from the north towards the center and vice versa.
Next to Tripla, the section of the bike path under Pasilansilla was recently opened after a long renovation. The through tunnel is used by both pedestrians and cyclists.
Several buses and trams stop on Ratapihankatu. Now the cyclist driving from the direction of the city center pops out of the underpass tunnel onto Ratapihantie directly on the same fairway as the people unloading from the trams and buses.
Triplan the bypass bike path along the main line connects to Pohjoisbaana, which was completed in August 2017. Cyclists can quickly get directly to Käpylä and Oulunkylä along it.
Pasila project manager Harri Verkamo is aware of the problems on the light traffic route. “There has always been a place of conflict on the side of the Ratapihantie station, as all passengers burst out at the tram terminal.”
Why aren’t separate lanes painted for cyclists and pedestrians on the street?
“Road markings no longer stay on the ground in cold weather, and certain conditions are required for painting. That is why it is unfortunately not possible to make markings in winter, ”says Verkamo and says that the lanes are painted in spring.
According to Verkamo, there are no entries in the tunnel.
“It’s too narrow to be separated by a separate sidewalk and bike path.”
According to Verkamo, the city can only try to make the street markings as visible as possible and trust that people are aware of the inconvenience of the place.
The “susceptibility” of Pasila’s position is also felt by the chairman of the Helsinki Cyclists’ Association Timo Hast. The primary problem, he said, is confusing arrangements where pedestrian and cyclist lanes are not separated.
“There’s a lot of traffic on the street, and it should be clarified where anyone is supposed to go,” Hast says.
According to him, a lasting solution cannot be found from the signs painted on the street. Hast believes that a separate bike path will be built on the site in the future.
“Level separations should be made on the street so that the bike path is separated by a curb from the pedestrian path. It is quite clear that pedestrians react in a completely different way to a high curb, and it works better than any finish line. ”
He said safety could also be improved by other changes.
Hast suggests railings for bus and tram stops on both sides. In addition, he would mark the crossings of the bike path more clearly. This way, from behind the stop canopy, the visor would not be able to enter the bike path from around the corner. Marking bike crossings could guide pedestrians to one or two points.
“This makes it easier for cyclists to predict where pedestrians will cross the bike path.”
In awkward places, cyclists need to remember the right speed and get a little dim, Hast recalls.
“When you are attentive, you will find out.”
Pasila is one of the busiest interchanges in Helsinki’s public transport. In 2016, prior to the construction of Tripla, the population flowing in the area was surveyed by counting individuals during the busiest hours of the morning and evening. At that time, 400–500 pedestrians and 300–400 cyclists per hour were spotted north of the station on Ratapihantie.
According to the calculation of the same year, almost 2,500 people travel by an hour in the morning and 2,200 by an hour in the evening near the railway yards. The sign bridge is a footbridge from the station to the office center.
A particularly lively pedestrian area around the station is right on Ratapihantie at the stops in front of the station. On the intersection side, one guard road is calculated to cross 750 in the morning and 800 in the afternoon during peak hours.
When no other routes were available, 600-800 people traveled along the Pasilans Bridge during rush hour in the morning and afternoon. The figures have been calculated at peak times and are not averages, but they do indicate traffic congestion.