Big plans to restrict car traffic on Rīga's Barona street

Traffic will be organized in a very different manner in central Rīga, with Kr. Barona street possibly closed to vehicle traffic and other changes introduced in the coming years.

Earlier Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs (Harmony) told Latvian Radio that starting May 1, 2019 Kr. Barona street may be closed to through-going car traffic. 

While on December 4 he said that bicycle counters and other changes will be introduced to promote cycling and reduce the number of cars in central Rīga. These will be further discussed with the firm of Danish architect Jan Gehl, and results are to be presented in February 2019.

"First of all we're speaking of mechanical limitations to [vehicles], that is, adding new cycling lanes. We're also talking about making at least a single street, possibly Barona street, closed to private transportation, leaving it to public transportation as well as cyclists and pedestrians," he said.

"While as concerns introducing a fee for cars to enter the city, we'll be waiting for suggestions from the urban planners," he said.

Talks are ongoing with the Copenhagenize urban planning group over developing cycling infrastructure, said Ušakovs.

Meanwhile Gehl's associate, Helle Søholtsaid that Rīga is better prepared to carry out the suggestions of their firm than 15 years ago, when Gehl's firm was first hired to work in Rīga. 

"Back then the economic crisis arrived quickly, but today Rīga is in much better shape. And today we can really concentrate on making the public outdoor spaces better in the city. We see the possibility to make the streets better for pedestrians, introduce better cycling infrastructure, make streets greener, plant new trees and make public transportation more convenient to pedestrians and cyclists," she said.

"I also see an opportunity to remove current obstacles and improve access the the Daugava river bank," she said.

The Rīga City Council told Latvian Radio that the consultation fees for Gehl's office until next February will run up to €200,000. 

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