| Oulu, April 19th and 20th 2004
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On the first day of the site visit, the participants
were welcomed by Rauli Lindeman and Jaakko Ylinampa who
gave a presentation on land use and transport planning in
Oulu. Jaakko then described the transport characteristics
and major schemes in Oulu before the group embarked on a
tour of the cycle and pedestrian network of the city. On
day two, Rauli Lindeman described the public transport system
in Oulu, Luca Persia presented the data submitted so far
and the group discussed.
The Oulu Context
The city of Oulu has an interesting history, having been
ruled by Sweden and then Russia before Finland achieved
independence 1917. Traditionally the city has been a major
port, exporting reindeer fur and the city’s most famous
product, tar. Now, hi-tech industries are more important
in a more service sector based economy, with Nokia employing
5000 people in the city which also produces 5000 jobs for
The city will celebrate its 400th anniversary in 2005 and
during the year, there will be no development allowed in
the city centre. Oulu has always had a grid pattern to the
road network and the city, although dating back 400 years,
has many modern buildings as there were several fires which
destroyed the older wooden buildings. As a result of these
fires, the city was re-designed slightly to have wider roads
and parks in the centre, to restrict the spread of fires.
More recently, the city has benefited from the construction
of a hydro electric power plant on the Oulu river which
has calmed the river and also made money for the city. The
growth in population has been rapid since the 1930s when
there were 28,000 inhabitants to 100,000 in 1990 and now
to about 125,000. Oulu is now Finland’s 6th largest
city and the population increase, which includes surrounding
municipalities, is expected to continue.
Land Use and Transport Planning in Oulu
A master plan has been produced covering Oulu and the surrounding
municipalities, a principal project within this is the construction
of another river crossing. In Finland, many people aspire
to build their own detached home on a plot of land outside
the city which contributes to decentralisation of the city.
Another problem faced by transport planners is the increasing
popularity of out of town shopping centres which has had
a negative effect on the attractiveness of the city centre.
Added to this, there is a lack of parking spaces in the
central area; Finnish law dictates that there should be
1 parking space per 100m2 of development but this has not
been achieved throughout the centre.
Oulu municipality plans to remedy these problems by increasing
the number of parking spaces in the centre with the development
of underground parking. The underground parking plan should
help to remove traffic searching for parking spaces and
should help to re-vitalise the central area, generating
mode demand for all modes of transport. Some covered walkways
will be created to link residential areas to shopping facilities
in the centre.
Bus services will also be adjusted so that all services
run along one main street in both directions with some removal
of on street parking. Real time information will be installed
on all local buses by 2005 and bus priority schemes will
also be implemented. Public transport in Oulu is operated
by private companies, the biggest is Koskilinjat. New colour
coded city centre bus services are planned to make bus routes
cheap and easy to use for short distance urban journeys.
Currently, bus services are mostly used by children and
elderly people and account for only 6% of journeys made
in the city.
Car ownership in the city is relatively high and is expected
to increase due to the lowering of tax levels for car ownership.
During the winter, Oulu experiences very low temperatures
and heavy snow but the local authority keeps traffic moving
through well established gritting and ploughing procedures.
Most Oulu residents heat their cars overnight during the
Despite the freezing temperatures, Oulu has many cyclists
of all ages, many of whom cycle throughout the year. In
the summer , 40% of trips to the city centre are made by
bicycle or by walking, aided by well defined pedestrian
and cycle routes, of which there has been an increase of
21% since 1991. More than half of the cycleways in the city
are segregated from other traffic.
Public Transport in Oulu
Koskilinjat is the main public transport operator in Oulu
whose 95 buses carry 7.8 million passengers per year. Demand
for public transport is 2-3 times greater in the winter,
when cold weather conditions deter people from cycling or
walking, than in the summer when demand for public transport
falls sharply. Nearly all the bus routes in Oulu cross the
city centre giving good connections between suburbs on opposite
sides of the city. The perception of public transport in
Oulu is not good compared with the private car and out of
town developments aimed at car users have been constructed
without taking public transport into account.