Transportation Practices in the Old City of Riga



Transportation Practices in the Old City of Riga

Authors

ZARUMBA I, CERBULE E and SPROiE O, City Council, Latvia

Description

Riga as the capital of Latvia and the centre of the Baltic region is located in a geographically advantageous position among Western Europe, Scandinavian and Eastern Europe countries.

Abstract

Riga as the capital of Latvia and the centre of the Baltic region is located in a geographically advantageous position among Western Europe, Scandinavian and Eastern Europe countries.

Riga was founded in 1201 by Bishop Albert, but it was first time mentioned in records in 1198.

The existing Old City was the first place of urban development in Latvia, and the network of streets has remained since those old times and is still being used. Today, the total area of Riga is 307.17 square kilometres, of which the Old City occupies only 0.5 square kilometres.

Throughout the centuries, Old Riga has been the most presentable part of the capital focussing on business and tourism. At all times, this part of the city houses government institutions, banks, offices, concert halls, exhibition halls, art galleries, boutiques, cafes and restaurants, as well as apartments; in order to provide functioning of such objects, the use of motor vehicles is unavoidable. Buildings, streets and utilities systems in Old Riga are very old and outdated; during their renovation and reconstruction heavy lorries must be used which are not suitable for narrow streets.

In the course of time, opinions regarding the use of transport in Old Riga has undergone changes, from absolute ban of motor vehicles, to free traffic flow, including public transport as well. Old Riga has experienced all development stages of public transport from horse-drawn trams to electrified tram, trolley-bus and bus.

The last largest action against transport on the streets of Old Riga occurred twenty years ago, in 1979, when the municipality prohibited parking of cars in its very centre, the Dome Square, and in 1983 public transport routes through Old Riga were closed and traffic of cars, especially through traffic, was restricted in this territory. Given that the number of cars was constantly growing, in 1993 a pass regime was introduced in Old Riga. in 1985, a decision was made, which was implemented only in 1990, to reorganise three main streets of Old Riga, K~a'iu, Tor6u and Va~6u Streets, into pedestrian zone, thus eliminating any possibility of through traffic. According to statistics, the number of cars in Riga is still constantly growing.

Publisher

Association for European Transport