The Life-Sized City Blog: Helsinki 1937

When I was in Helsinki to give a talk a couple of months ago I also had a meeting with the City’s bicycle planners and urban planners at their offices. They are keen to transform the city into a more bicycle-friendly area. There is a network of bicycle infrastructure but most of it is hopelessly out of date and not designed particularly well. There is a respectable number of cyclists using it, especially now what with the renaissance of the bicycle. But challenges lay ahead.

I was interested to hear that the city used to have a fine network of bicycle infrastructure back in the day. My colleagues at the City's bicycle office sent me these two maps, both dating from 1937. The map above shows the bicycle infrastructure marked in red. A lot of it mirroring Copenhagen's cycle tracks, like this stretch in 1955. Tracks on either side of the street along the main arteries.

This map shows a bicycle count done in 1937. It's not clear from looking at the map, but the City's bicycle office tells me that the thickest red lines mean 10,000 cyclists a day. Helsinki was a great deal smaller in 1937 than it is now, so those numbers are impressive.

Here's hoping we can get Helsinki back on (the cycle) track. Until then, here's some Helsinki Cycle Chic...

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