New project: transportation in Nordic capitals

Linda Karjalainen studies urban transportation sustainability in Oslo, Helsinki and Stockholm in her PhD project.

Climate change and emissions (i.e. greenhouse gases and air pollutants) have emerged as central concerns in policy and transportation planning in Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo. Oslo and Stockholm have set ambitious targets, including zero emission initiatives and aggressive congestion charges, while Helsinki has been generally slower to react to progressive sustainability planning trends than its neighbouring capital cities. Linda Karjalainen’s PhD project is positioned to study and structure the concept of urban transportation sustainability alongside the policy guiding the current sustainability transition in the Nordic case cities. Moreover, the project is set to refine existing methodological tools applicable to urban transportation policy assessments by pursuing a stronger connection between the policy, its influencing factors, and the intended impact, without losing the integrated understanding of sustainability.

Urban transportation policies will be framed through sustainability by adopting the tri-dimensional approach consisting of environmental, social, and economic dimensions, thus elaborating the need for comprehensive understanding of sustainability. The multi-level analysis, moving from the decision-making and policy level through key measures and initiatives on to the user level, will help understand the dynamics of this equation and the policy’s intended and potential impact on transportation patterns and user level behaviour. Mixed methods are applied by combining qualitative content analysis, interviews and surveys with statistical analysis. The research thus produces knowledge about the strengths, barriers and improvement potential of current policies and measures, both within the individual case cities as well as comparatively between them, while additionally constructing an integrated and applicable assessment tool.