Car farce update

It may be due to the efforts of Deputy Mayor Hannu Penttilä. It may be a result of avid blogging and some good use of newspaper inches. But the final result is …

… that the Hem i Stan association who are building a new, green and sociable, type of residential block in Jätkäsaari are in fact allowed to pursue their effort without adding to the city’s still growing menace of motor cars.

As many a blogger and journalist is noting, Helsinki’s planning regulations are totally insane in this regard. When a centrally located development, in an area moreover that’s touted as super-green, wants to save money and the planet by building for people not cars, it gets punished. Almost.

Today, the news is that they have been “allowed” an “exception” to build only 24 parking spaces instead of the 46 that the law (!) requires. And they have to build a few more for passing trade. (And we thought this area was to be brilliant for public transport.)

Now that this controversy has opened some people’s eyes, perhaps those who make the rules will be inspired to change them. And if not, they must stop claiming that Helsinki’s policy is to reduce car use in favour of other transport modes.

Should a voter, politician, official or a generally curious Finnish reader want to know more about how much better and cheaper it would be to build cities around public transport links, they could do worse than to check out the calculations on this fun blog. Seems the pressure to build for cars comes at least partly from the way the state, rather than the city, subsidises road building.

We knew it was complicated.

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