On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the City of Helsinki Council on Disability granted its accessibility accolade for 2020 to the accessible nature trail located on Lammassaari Island in the Vanhankaupunginlahti area.
The Council on Disability wanted to highlight the determined efforts towards accessibility in the design and implementation of the longest accessible nature trail in Helsinki.
“When done right, accessible solutions often blend into the environment and become invisible. On the other hand, obstacles can stick out very easily, if accessibility has been forgotten entirely,” says Kristiina Karhos, deputy chair of the Council on Disability.
Accessibility in natural environments has become more important than ever before during 2020, the year overshadowed by the coronavirus crisis. Nature provides wonderful recreational opportunities for large numbers of people throughout the year.
Lammassaari duckboard path and the Pornaistenniemi accessible nature trail
Completed in 2018, the Lammassaari duckboard path and the Pornaistenniemi accessible nature trail were designed with special attention to ensuring that they can be easily navigated with a variety of mobility aids. In terms of accessibility, one of the exemplary aspects of the Lammassaari nature trail is that the path is sufficiently wide for mobility aids and there are always passing points in sight.
The boards of the accessible duckboard path have been placed in a crosswise arrangement, which keeps white canes, or any other canes, from getting stuck between the boards. In addition to this, the raised sides guide visually impaired hikers and prevent the wheels of mobility aids from slipping off the path. The railings of the accessible observation platform and other elevated observation points are made of glass, which ensures that the vistas can be enjoyed by children, users of mobility aids and people of short stature alike. The handrails of the stairs leading to the viewing platforms have been correctly installed, and high-contrast stripes have been added to make the stairs more clearly visible. As a unique solution, the nature trail features a mirror that can be used to enjoy the view from the high (inaccessible) birdwatching tower without leaving ground level. The total length of the Lammassaari duckboard path and the Pornaistenniemi nature trail is 3.2 km – the Lammassaari duckboard path is 1.1 km in one direction.
The key people who made Helsinki’s longest accessible nature trail a reality were as follows: Kaisa Pajanen, City of Helsinki team manager in charge of environmental awareness; Annika Harlio, project coordinator for the NATTOURS project; Pirjo Tujula, accessibility representative for the City of Helsinki, who supervised the implementation of accessibility; Elina Nummi, project planner for the Luonnon Syli nature trail; Vesa Koskikallio, forest engineer in charge of City-owned green areas; and Antti Helakallio, environmental supervisor for the City of Helsinki construction service enterprise Stara.
The duckboard path was primarily put together by Stara in cooperation with the workers, managers and customers of the Kerava Prison woodshop. The duckboard trail was designed by Varpu Mikola of Nomaji Landscape Architects and Emma Johansson of Studio Puisto Architects. The Pornaistenniemi nature trail was designed by biologist Adela Pajunen, geographer Marko Leppänen and environment designer Niko Riepponen.
The City of Helsinki Council on Disability grants its annual accessibility accolade to a party or act that has promoted equal participation among local residents with disabilities or chronic illnesses and the easy access of services.
Accessibility accolades previously granted by the City of Helsinki Council on Disability:
2019 Helsinki Central Library Oodi – implementation of an accessible urban space.
2018 Helsinki City Transport – implementation of public transport stop announcements.
2017 Port of Helsinki – accessibility of the West Terminal.
2016 Project Manager Mirjam Heikkinen for the development of an accessibility application for the service map.
The following were also recognised for the efforts to promote accessibility:
2017 honorary certificate to Deputy Mayor Pekka Sauri for promoting the easy and accessible mobility of disabled citizens and influencing the accessibility and usage opportunities of public transport in Helsinki.
2017 desktop excavator for Stara as recognition for exemplary winter maintenance.
2017 honorary certificate to the Helsinki City Museum for the implementation of accessibility.
Helsinki – Naturally (Video in Finnish)
Picture: Laura Oja, City of Helsinki.