Margus Evert

University of Tartu and the city of Tartu are looking for solutions to develop sustainable mobility

On 15 May, representatives of the University of Tartu and the city of Tartu met to discuss the results of the mobility survey conducted at the university in autumn 2023 and the research team’s recommendations for cooperation with the university and the city.

Associate Professor in Urban Environment and the responsible organiser of the mobility survey Age Poom presented the survey results, including the factors influencing mobility choices and the opportunities for sustainable mobility in Tartu. In the survey participants’ opinion, the most problematic areas are Toome Hill (winter maintenance of pavements on Lossi Street and the lack of cycling lanes), the high traffic load of Riia Street, and the traffic solution at Maarjamõisa.

According to Poom, an analysis of lesson plans showed that students move most of all between the Maarjamõisa and Delta buildings in a day. One time in six, there is a risk of being late because of the long distance to cover in the 30 minutes between two lectures and the bus timetable not meeting the students’ needs. On average, it takes 31 minutes by bus and 8–16 minutes by car to get from Physicum to the Delta centre. This is why the preferred mode of travel between the study buildings is by car.

To solve this problem, the research team recommended changing the frequency of the relevant bus routes or the route network and departure times to better match the students’ timetables. Another recommendation was that the timetables should be designed to avoid or minimise the number of consecutive classes in buildings that are located far apart.

Representatives of the university and the city agreed that, although there are no quick solutions at the moment, they will work together to find better ways to promote sustainable mobility. They emphasised that as university staff and students make up around 15% of road users in Tartu, it is important to listen to their opinions and consider their needs. For example, they will review issues related to public transport and recommended cycling and walking routes, and together organise a bus trip to cover the route from Maarjamõisa to Delta during the lecture break.

The survey team and city representatives agree that creating a core network of fast, continuous and safe cycling and pedestrian paths connecting Maarjamõisa, the city centre, the Delta study building, etc, is essential. It is also a priority for the city to better connect sprawled urban areas with the city’s transport network.

The mobility survey was carried out by the University of Tartu Mobility Lab in cooperation with the University of Tartu Research Group of Physical Activity for Health to support organising sustainable mobility at the university. The University of Tartu mobility survey analysed the mobility needs and behaviour of the university community based on an online questionnaire, focus group interviews, individual timetable data, parking logs and business travel data. Based on the results of the mobility survey, the university can set targets to reduce the environmental burden of mobility and create conditions conducive to healthy mobility behaviour.


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