With a population of over 305,000 residents, the city of Espoo, Finland touts the best of both worlds: a unique combination of urban and nature. Its stunning outdoor landscapes fused with a vibrant city centre makes it ideal for cycling. But not all residents have equal opportunity to this mode of transport. Those with an immigrant background (around one-fifth of the population) have faced barriers to accessible cycling due to cultural or other reasons.
EIT Climate-KIC Sponsors Inclusive Cycling
Courses To address this gap, the city launched an inclusive cycling initiative sponsored by EIT Climate-KIC, a body of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology focused on climate action and sustainability.
"We understand the importance of empowering individuals with the skills and confidence to ride a bicycle, enabling them to enjoy the benefits of sustainable mobility," explains Veli-Pekka Korhonen, Sustainable Mobility Specialist at the City of Espoo leading the EIT Climate-KIC sponsored project.
In collaboration with the Helsinki Region Cyclists, the City of Espoo organised cycling courses in five different locations from June to August 2023. The project has received an overwhelming response from residents with 84 participants trained and counting.
Cycling Provides Freedom and Flexibility
But as Korhonen explains, “The impact goes beyond simply teaching people how to ride a bike. They have come to realise that biking provides a newfound sense of freedom and flexibility, allowing individuals to travel from A to B whenever they want to.”
To encourage cycling after the courses, the participants were offered a “graduation gift” of a complementary subscription to the city bikes in Espoo and Helsinki or a voucher covering bicycle maintenance. This was made possible by EIT Climate-KIC's sponsorship.
Repair Cafés Boost Local Businesses
The City of Espoo also acquired six workspaces and a mobile “repair café” during the month of August where residents could learn bike maintenance skills while boosting the local businesses that provide those services. This community-focused initiative was funded by EIT Climate-KIC as part of their mission to drive inclusive and sustainable transformation.
Empowering the Local Community
“This project has brought us great joy,” adds Korhonen. “To see the happiness and excitement of individuals as they learn to ride a bike has been truly rewarding. It highlights the positive impact such initiatives can have on peoples’ lives, fostering a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. We are grateful to EIT Climate-KIC for the opportunity to contribute to the well-being of our community.”
The project contributes to the city’s larger decarbonisation strategy known as the “Espoo Story,” which aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Because one-third of its CO2 emissions originate from traffic, the city council has made addressing transportation-related emissions a high priority.
EIT Climate-KIC Funds Sustainable Mobility
EIT Climate-KIC is empowering more cities to accelerate the transition towards cleaner, greener and smarter mobility by sponsoring impactful local projects across Europe. The second edition of their Sustainable Cities Climate Impact Challenge, is now accepting applications to fund small-scale sustainable mobility initiatives.
The deadline to apply is 10 November 2023.