Finns are no strangers to snow, but when the roads get icy and the snow is knee-deep, skiing might just be the fastest way to get around. That’s why the city of Lahti in Southern Finland has decided to roll-out a public ski-sharing scheme – as the first city in the world.
– 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.
There are three ski points in total, two in the city centre, and one near the Salpausselkä ski stadium. A seven-time host city of The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, Lahti has a strong tradition of winter sports, and with a total of 180 km of cross-country skiing trails in the Lahti area, most locals are ski enthusiasts. In addition to the already extensive trail network, new skiing trails have been laid out in the city centre.
– 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.
Walkable cities: looking forward for the Lahti city bikes
So far, Lahti has cut its total greenhouse gas emissions by 70% from 1990 levels. As the reigning European Green Capital, Lahti wants to set an example and challenge others to do good for the environment.
The city encourages its residents to reduce their transport-related carbon emissions by building better cycle paths, keeping the main cycling routes clear of snow during the winter, and by investing in electric buses. The city has also released an app that allows users to monitor their transport-related emissions. Later this year, Lahti wants to introduce a bike-sharing system, which is a big step in creating a walkable city.
– 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.