Winters in Helsinki vary, as snowless and record-breakingly snowy winters take turns unpredictably. However, Helsinki is well-prepared for snow. The City’s own service producer, Stara, and private contractors are on standby to keep the streets open. Winter maintenance is carried out in Helsinki by both Stara and four private contractors.
An essential part of the winter maintenance of streets is treatment to prevent ice formation, which will commence when needed. Road surfaces can become slippery in low-lying places, wooden decks or close to the sea, for example, even before the temperature drops below zero.
At the most critical times during major snow storms, snow removal work may require the City’s entire fleet of lorries, multi-function machines, wheel loaders, maintenance and environmental management machinery, tractors and road graders to be deployed.
The City of Helsinki’s annual winter maintenance budget for public areas is approximately €25 million.
Helsinki has a total of approximately 1,200 kilometres of motor traffic streets and roads. There are approximately 1,500 kilometres of cycling and pedestrian routes.
Residents may have to wait for a snow-plough to clear their area, especially on residential streets, as the fleet cannot be everywhere at once. Streets are cleared of snow in accordance with their so-called maintenance class. Main streets and streets used for public transportation are cleared first. Residential streets are next in line. Residential streets should be cleared within three days of it stopping snowing, at the latest. Pedestrian and cycling routes also have maintenance classes.
How is the street maintenance
Responsibility for the winter maintenance of streets is divided between the City and private properties. In a large portion of Helsinki, the City bears the main responsibility, meaning that the City is responsible for the winter maintenance of driving and pedestrian lanes alike. However, in the city centre area, properties also bear a large responsibility for the winter maintenance of pedestrian lanes in particular.
The responsibility distribution map (PDF in Finnish) >
City has a total responsibility for street maintenance of the green areas on this map.
The City of Helsinki is surveying what kind of winter maintenance and sanitation model would be best suited for the inner city. Over the course of the winter, the City will collect observations regarding the winter maintenance of residential areas from inner city residents who have signed up as observers. Representatives of housing companies and maintenance companies will also be interviewed.
Where is the snow transported to?
In winter, the City accepts snow collected from streets and property areas in its designated snow dump areas. Bringing snow to a dump area is subject to a fee and requires registration. Dumping snow in City-owned areas other than the official dump areas is prohibited.
Information about street clearing via text message
In winter, parking arrangements will change in the most crowded street areas across Helsinki. All winter-time traffic arrangements will be marked with traffic signs or signs urging vehicle owners to move their parked vehicles. A vehicle moving sign is placed so that the street can be cleared of snow. Preliminary information about street clearing that requires vehicles to be moved is provided at www.puhdistussuunnitelmat.fi (in Finnish). The website also provides instructions for subscribing to text messages warning about upcoming vehicle moving requests.
Better winter management for cycling and pedestrian routes
The City has a 52-kilometre network of cycling routes with a higher-than-usual level of winter maintenance. This means that snow is cleared by brushing instead of ploughing and anti-skid treatment is carried out by means other than spreading of sand. Some sections are also ploughed more frequently than usual. Pedestrian routes going along the cycling routes with intensified winter maintenance are also given exceptionally high-quality maintenance. However, the maintenance methods can vary.
This winter, the total length of the routes with intensified maintenance increased by approximately ten kilometres from the previous year. The especially high level of maintenance was also extended to Teollisuuskatu, between Töölö and Pikku-Huopalahti and between Itäkeskus and Vuosaari Harbour.
The City and Helsinki Cyclists are collaborating in the winter season of 2020–2021. Winter agents focusing on cycling traffic are monitoring and reporting on the successfulness of the winter maintenance of cycling routes. The City will use the information for developing its operations.
Where can I submit feedback?
You can provide feedback regarding the winter maintenance of streets and other routes via the City of Helsinki’s feedback system, from which it will be forwarded directly to the supervisor responsible for the area.