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Tartu’s Car-Free Avenue provided a boost to the economy and encouraged citizens to entertain themselves in a different kind of way

Tartu City Government Press Release

30 September / The City of Tartu summed-up this summer’s Car-free Avenue, during which Vabaduse Puiestee was closed to cars for a month.

The new initiative was well received by both city residents and tourists from Estonia and neighbouring countries, with more than 150,000 visitors having visited over the one month period.

The impact assessment of Car-Free Avenue is now complete, with feedback having been requested from thousands of city residents and residents of nearby rural municipalities. As many as 70 per cent thought that the project had paid off, and 15-24-year-olds were particularly positive about the project, with as many as 42 per cent of them wanting a permanent solution of this type on Vabaduse Puiestee.

Feedback was also sought from 25 businesses, with 85 per cent noting that the project helped provide a boost to the area, and 55 per cent of respondents stating that the number of visits to their businesses was better than expected. A total of 64 per cent of the respondents confirmed that turnover for their business in July was higher than expected. In addition, 33 programme partners were interviewed, 91 per cent of whom would like to continue cooperating.

Car-Free Avenue had a positive effect on domestic tourism, as compared to July of the previous year there were nearly 7000 more overnight stays in Tartu’s accommodation establishments.

The city government also monitored the impact of Car-Free Avenue on traffic. The results show that during rush hour it took a maximum of 50 seconds longer to cover a specific distance via detour than would have been the case for cars via the closed Vabaduse Puiestee.

In cooperation with 25 programme partners, more than 200 events, performances, conversations, meetings, mini-concerts and workshops took place on Car-Free Avenue during the month. There were activities for both children and the elderly.

The aim of Car-Free Avenue was to provide a boost to the economy, which had been affected by the coronavirus, and to offer city residents new leisure opportunities and a new spatial experience by connecting the Emajõgi River to the City Centre. ‘Car-Free Avenue successfully connected the Emajõgi River and the City Centre, attracted city residents to spend time in the area regularly, and aroused considerable interest among tourists as well. To the delight of organizers, the plan to bring different generations together in the area was also a success’, said Marleen Viidul, Head of the Tartu City Government’s Department of Culture.

Since several major summer events were cancelled due to the coronavirus, in July the Tartu City Government offered the people of Tartu the opportunity to gather in the heart of the city to spend time in an unexpected environment – in the middle of the street. ‘The changing and adapting of the urban space to current and future challenges is a natural process. Car-Free Avenue proved that citizens of the city also expect their city to utilise such innovative techniques and create a dialogue’, said City Architect Tõnis Arjus.

Last changed 30.09.2020