Hitting the streets with Tallinn City leader

Tallinn is a very unique capital, unlike most European cities, Tallinn has never seen the light of holistic city planning. Heart of the town – medieval Old Town, is a legacy built between secure stone walls, other parts of it have more or less organically and in a rush expanded around it together with growing population.

Add Soviet take on true communist living and you have Tallinn – capital of Estonia. It’s a little living organism trying to cope with growing traffic and its inhabitants constantly increasing demand of better life quality.

An important factor of life quality is time, how we spend it. Commuting is one of the things using up our precious time. As Tallinn’s public transport network was created and developed in 70s and 80s in the spirit of Soviet thinking, and has seen little changes since. Today a 10min drive with a car, can take you 1.5 hours with the public transport. Not a good way to spend your time and definitely not something that would add on to your life. Or just hop on a bike. Tallinn is small and compact, usually a 20min bike ride will get you wherever you want to go. It’s easy, healthy and environmentally friendly way to get around, isn’t it?

In Wolt we have tens and tens of bike couriers every day on the streets of Tallinn. We should know, how it really is to commute in Tallinn on a bike.

We wanted to give a firsthand experience to a person who is responsible of making streets of Tallinn bike friendly and who is advocating for better bike infrastructure in town. We invited Raimond Kaljulaid, City leader in North of Tallinn (the hipster part of town), to be a bike courier.

And he took the challenge

It was a fun experiment. Raimond geared up in Wolt outfit and put on 60x60x60 blue thermos bag and got on his bike. Only guidance was Wolt courier app to lead the way and ticking time announcing when the next pick-up or drop-off is. We were in rush and on bikes.

In our 2h journey, we face all obstacles Tallinn streets have to offer to a cyclist. Especially if you can’t take pleasant detours or don’t have time for slow cruising. We witnessed no bike lanes, or bike lanes just for leisure; no safe crossing on major crossroads; narrow streets that force cyclist to get on the sideway instead of driving along side of cars; uneven bumps on the road, and so on. Everyone who has ever got on a bike in Tallinn to do their everyday commutes, knows the thrill and hazards. Or as Raimond put it: “Tallinn is perfect for bikes, if you have large enough car that fits your bike in. You just put your bike on the car and drive to the location you want to cycle. ”

Thank you Raimond for taking the time to see how Tallinn is treating it’s cyclists and what needs to be improved to make cycling one good alternative for driving by car.