Helsinki Traffic Junction examined in Handshake design challenge
In February 2022, Cycling Capitals Copenhagen, Munich and Amsterdam organised a masterclass called the International Junction Design Challenge. This challenge saw small teams of traffic engineers and planners from the three cities sitting together and brainstorming a new possible junction design.
The junction in question is located in Helsinki, a Handshake Future Cycling Capital. Helsinki provided the necessary data and technical details, and Helsinki representatives were present during the challenge to answer questions and provide comments on the designs. It was also this Helsinki delegation that chose the winner!
Although located in Helsinki, the possible new junction design was to be developed according to the principles, regulations and design guidelines found in each of the Cycling Capitals. The idea and need for this kind of challenge arose from the fact that each city has their own way of doing things, and sometimes it is not easy to translate between these different contexts when sharing knowledge.
According to the masterclass organiser, Raoul Teekamp, “applying our different ways of working to the same challenge will clarify some of these differences and help expose pros and cons of each approach”. The element of competition helped to make this masterclass feel fun and informal, as well as prompt some valuable discussions both internally and between the cities.
The junction chosen by Helsinki was selected for a multitude of reasons: it needs to be redesigned, it is a typical junction found in the city, it sees plenty of cyclists, it has traffic lights and it has relevant data available. The chosen junction was the one of Sahaajankatu and Mekaankonkatu/Roihuvuorentie.
Helsinki concluded that the designs (especially those from Copenhagen and Munich) were similar to the ones their own engineers could have proposed, but with some additional features for cyclists (for example separate traffic lights). The design offered by Amsterdam differed the most from current standards. Being happy with all the designs, Helsinki struggled to choose a winner, so the Cycling Capitals themselves got to vote for their favourite. Amsterdam was chosen as the lucky winner!
The team from Helsinki found the experience to be both educative and inspirational, and anticipate that all three designs will be considered in the future during its own internal redesign process. The designs also provide further perspective and argumentation in favour of improved integration of bicycle traffic.
Looking to the future, the Cycling Capitals expressed an interest in participating in another round of such a design challenge – perhaps next time, with mixed-city teams.
The Sahaajankatu and Mekaankonkatu/Roihuvuorentie intersection in Helsinki.
The map below shows the nearby locations of traffic lights. The intersection in question is visible at the top of the map.
The winning design, from Amsterdam. The design software 'OTTO' was used to calculate the clearance times and 'Microstation' for the drawings.
The design from Copenhagen.
The design from Munich.
Image by: City of Copenhagen