Snow-sweeping and de-icing on the Baana express bikeway in spring 2017. Photo: Pertti Nisonen

A new winter cycling route to Eastern Helsinki

Helsinki cycling routes within the programme of enhanced winter maintenance will expand eastward as far as Itäkeskus and Laajasalo. Additional funds are proposed for enhanced winter maintenance of pedestrian routes.

The total length of routes in the enhanced winter maintenance programme is 40.8 kilometres in the winter season 2019–2020.

Snow-sweeping and de-icing are used for winter maintenance on a 25.2-kilometre stretch of the routes. Enhanced ploughing is used on the 5.9-kilometre waterfront track Rantaratareitti. The new eastern route is maintained using a combination of snow-sweeping and biodegradable potassium formate (9.7 kilometres).

“The route to the east has been requested in many feedback messages to us, so it’s magnificent that we’re now able to provide the extension to the network,” says the walking and cycling project manager Antti Takkunen, pleased with the new maintenance services.

Combination of snow-sweeping and de-icing to combat snow and slipperiness

Snow-sweeping and de-icing combined are an efficient method of keeping bikeways ice-free and safe. The method also improves bikeway safety and usability in spring, as there is no gravel on surfaces to remove. As the use of gravel is reduced, road and street dust – a springtime phenomenon – is also reduced.

Snow-sweeping alone without de-icing would not be a sufficient winter maintenance method for bikeways, as bikeway surfaces would easily remain icy and dangerous. Therefore de-icing or some other method to control slipperiness is necessary. In the future, the City will optimize the use of de-icing salts with the help of increasingly accurate traffic conditions reporting in order to avoid excessive use of de-icing salts.

A new biodegradable solution for icy bikeway surfaces

New routes on Itäväylä and in Herttoniemi–Laajasalo will be maintained by snow-sweeping and de-icing, but slipperiness will be controlled with potassium formate instead of salt. Potassium formate works like a salt solution, but it is biodegradable so it does not end up in groundwater. The compound was first tested in winter 2015–2016, when it was discovered to be as effective as the salt solution.

Additional funds for enhanced footpath maintenance

The 2020 budget proposal by the City Board to the City Council includes additional funding for enhanced winter maintenance of key pedestrian routes.

The proposal covers the main pedestrian routes in the inner city and paths leading to Metro and local public transport stops. The City Council will next consider the budget proposal at its meeting of 27 November 2019, continuing consideration started at the meeting of 13 November. The proposed funding would enable improvements in the conditions for walking on the busiest pedestrian routes.

Read more:
Winter cycling routes in the 2019-2020 season (on map)