From Boris Bikes to Zipcars, cities around the world are increasingly developing new, more climate friendly ways to get around. This winter, Finish city of Lahti has taken this innovation to a whole new level, introducing the world’s first urban ski-sharing programme.
In the depths of winter, when the snow is deep and the streets are icy, bikes and cars might not always be the best choice in terms of travel. So, Lahti have introduced a scheme so that travellers can borrow a pair of skis to get more easily to and from their destination.
“City Skis work the same as city bikes: the skis can be borrowed from a ski point, where they should be returned to after use,” says Saara Vauramo, the programme director of Lahti European Green Capital.
A seven-time host city of The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, Lahti has a strong history when it comes to winter sports. There are already an impressive 180km of cross-country skiing trails in the Lahti area, with new skiing trails laid out in the city centre for this programme.
In addition, Lahti is the reigning European Green Capital, so it is no surprise they are aiming to encourage people to reduce their transport-related carbon emissions.
“We hope the City Skis can bring joy to locals during the coldest season – and at the same time, we want to promote emission-free ways of getting around the city all-year round. As the current European Green Capital and the unofficial skiing capital of Finland, we want to save our winters and motivate people to make climate-friendly choices,” Vauramo continues, explaining that the city has seen clear demand for a bike sharing system.
Three ski points can be found in the city; two in the centre and one near the Salpausselä ski stadium.
“We have seen a clear demand for a bike-sharing system. As a traditional skiing city, we wanted to kick off our year as Europe’s Green Capital in a good-humoured way by gliding through the market square on skis,” says Anna Huttunen, the project manager of sustainable mobility.
Other steps taken by the city to improve its green credentials include building better cycle paths, keeping the main cycling routes clear of snow during the winter, and investing in electric buses. They have also released an app that allows users to monitor their transport-related emissions and plan to introduce a bike-sharing system later this year.
So far, Lahti has cut its total greenhouse gas emissions by 70% from 1990 levels, an impressive feat!