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Helsinki invites motorists to explore responsible routes

Helsinki is offering motorists an opportunity to help to find ways to encourage more responsible and sustainable route choices.

Lev Karavanov / Adobe

Code the Streets, an EU-sponsored initiative to make mobility safer, smoother and more responsible, is underway in Helsinki and Amsterdam.

The purpose of the initiative is to identify incentives and notifications that impact the route choices of motorists in various circumstances, nudging them toward choices that not only improve traffic flow and safety, but also reduce the burden on the climate and environment.

Motorists participating in the two-month project in the Finnish capital receive an alternative route option from their navigation system that takes into account not only the length and projected duration of the journey, but also factors related to safety and air quality. The system may, for example, instruct them to avoid roads close to schools, kindergartens and residential areas at certain times of day or roads close to a large public event.

“Users will be shown the fastest route and the ‘social’ route, which will have a short explanation as to the benefits of taking [it],” Sami Sahala, chief advisor at the City of Helsinki, stated to Cities Today.

“Something like, ‘Hey, there’s a big running event in this part of the city so there’ll be lots of people in the area’.”

For car drivers, the incentives must be situation-specific and offered in real time. Image: Aleksandra Suzi / Adobe

The social route is an option through the onboard navigation system of Mercedes-Benz and AbiGO by TomTom. The route choices made by the motorists are stored in the systems and will later be processed anonymously by researchers at Aalto University.

“For Helsinki, the most important goal of this project is that people create a direct link between the city and the driver, which has great potential in the future,” Sahala added to Forum Virium Helsinki, the innovation arm of the City of Helsinki. “Together with Aalto University, we are able to pilot incentives, even monetary incentives, which can be handy in the future in terms of, for example, congestion charging.”

Code the Cities is aimed at supporting cities in their effort to tackle challenges arising from their constant and rapid growth, such as congestions, air pollution and safety, by creating a basis for new digital mobility management tools.

The initiative is funded by TomTom, Mercedes-Benz and EIT Urban Mobility.

By: Aleksi Teivainen