Walking and cycling in winter is now even safer

Walking and cycling in winter is now even safer

Published 14.12.2018

The Finnish Transport Agency and ELY centres’ new operating policies for winter maintenance seek to promote walking and cycling in winter. This requires high-quality maintenance of walking and cycling routes whatever the weather.

The new winter maintenance policies, to be implemented in 2019, aim to take into account abnormal weather conditions in the maintenance of walking and cycling routes more effectively and with higher quality results. High-quality maintenance of walking and cycling routes increases the safety, ease and attractiveness of walking and cycling in winter.

High maintenance levels for new “quality corridors”

It is now possible to offer, in cooperation with city governments, a higher service level for busy pedestrian and cycling routes through the use of “quality corridors”. With quality corridors, efforts are made to implement a standardised level of winter maintenance regardless of the party responsible for the maintenance of the road. On these travel routes, a high service level is recommended; one which promotes walking and cycling as a means of travel and which also facilitates the use of prams, wheelchairs and Zimmer frames.

The objective is that, at a regional level, these quality corridors will form a coherent network which would provide an excellent service to those cycling to work, as well as many others. Quality corridors have already been either initiated or completed in a number of cities, including Oulu, Jyväskylä, Tampere, Kuopio, Helsinki and Vantaa.

Forecasting, digitalisation and interaction

In abnormal weather conditions, the safety and reasonable functionality of traffic routes is ensured first of all for the most central routes. The most important methods for this are clearly agreed procedures and careful advance planning, as well as the use of all the road maintenance equipment available.

Information systems are actively developed. Cooperation with road weather operators and contractors is being strengthened so that even more precise weather and road condition forecast data will be available. Quality assurance is also being strengthened using digital technologies.

Regular dialogue with contractors, city governments, municipalities, ELY centres, and other stakeholder groups aims towards the identification of changing customer needs.

Requirements for pedestrian and cycling routes

When negotiating or putting out to tender contract agreements for walking and cycling routes, measures are taken to ensure the safety and reasonable functionality of traffic flows. The key requirements for route maintenance are:

  • The correct timing of maintenance work to prevent the need to use driving routes instead and to secure good conditions for walking and cycling.

  • Enough friction to ensure safe movement – in other words, sufficient anti-skid treatment.

  • Snow piles must not prevent cycling or the use of prams.

  • In the maintenance of the most important walking and cycling routes, it is required that route maintenance is carried out in the mornings before the onset of school and work traffic and is also operational in the evenings and at weekends from 6am to 10pm to facilitate recreational traffic.

  • For routes in the second category of importance, maintenance must be carried out between 7am and 10pm.

  • The snow removal and levelling work on walking and cycling routes is done so as to leave a non-skid finish.

  • The removal of slushy packed snow ensures reasonable cycling conditions.

Environmental factors are taken into account in winter maintenance work

Action needs are examined together with environmental authorities and the situation is actively monitored. Wherever possible, methods of road maintenance which take the environment into account are implemented. At the same time, the safety of road users is ensured by applying sufficient anti-skid treatment. Restrictions on the use of salt are applied particularly in important groundwater areas.

The use of salt and grit will be made more effective, and gritting will be used on roads which are easily affected by salt in order to lengthen the lifespan of the road surface. In this way, the need for environmentally-damaging road network resurfacing and repairs will be reduced. Through selecting the correct gritting material, efforts will be made to increase the benefits from gritting and reduce the harm caused by dust in urban areas.

Further information:

Senior Officer for Sustainable Mobility Maija Rekola, Finnish Transport Agency, tel: +358 29 534 3058,

Senior Adviser Otto Kärki, Finnish Transport Agency, tel: +358 29 534 3330,


Operational guidelines for winter maintenance (publication, in Finnish):


The government resolution and the Ministry of Transport and Communications’s programme for promoting walking and cycling provide the framework for the guidelines on walking and cycling routes given in the winter maintenance operating guidelines. The formation of these guidelines have been influenced by international agreements aiming at large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the increase in walking and cycling that has been seen nationally, especially in city areas.