Without cars, Royal Djurgården will be both traffic-smart and more open and welcoming
More space for children and activities, more people who used public transport and an obvious desire to walk to Royal Djurgården are some of the results that can be deduced from a traffic-smart test week that was carried out at Djurgården in the first week of June. Overall, the test also shows that a car-free Djurgården is possible if it is combined with enhanced public transport and better conditions for walking and cycling.
Djurgården is Sweden’s most attractive visitor destination and part of the Royal National City Park. During a few intense summer days in June 2022, a traffic-smart test week was carried out at Djurgården. From 2-7 June, the historic bridge to Djurgården was closed to public car traffic with the goal of improving accessibility for all visitors. This by getting a better flow over the bridge and along the road leading from it, Djurgårdsvägen. Public transport on the waterways was strengthened and the Djurgård ferry service broke a new record with a peak of 33,435 passengers on 4 June. Closed parking lots were activated and used in different ways and the calmer traffic situation provided more space for pedestrians and cyclists. The visitor survey conducted during the week shows that as many as 90% of visitors would prefer to visit Djurgården without a car. 85% were positive about a future car-free Djurgården and commented that the street space was perceived as more pleasant and more accessible.
Why a traffic-smart week?
At Djurgården, nature experiences, museums, exhibitions, hotels, amusement parks and entertainment come together. It is important to us that everyone has access to the cultural and natural experiences here – they belong to us all and are part of our common heritage. Djurgården is an island and the most visited part, the so-called Event Park is reached by land via the bridge, Djurgårdsbron, where public transport, deliveries, taxis, and general car traffic coexist with pedestrians and cyclists. When we have the most visitors, the situation on the bridge is unsustainable. It is a known fact that with only a relatively few cars, queues can occur along this one road and over the bridge in and out of the Event Park. And with traffic jams the public transport also comes to a standstill. By limiting public car traffic, which transports few visitors to us in relation to the total number of visitors but limits availability and accessibility for many, we increase overall accessibility. It is a smart traffic solution that also benefits the traffic situation throughout Stockholm.
15 million visitors per year
The Event Park is the area on Djurgården where most of the major attractions are located and where many of the traffic challenges occur. This is evident not least from the traffic investigation that the Royal Djurgården Society produced together with the Royal Djurgården Administration and 3E Entertainment to analyze today’s situation and develop proposals for a future car- and traffic-smart Djurgården. Among other things, the investigation points out the load on Djurgårdsbron as a major challenge and shows that as a sustainable destination we need to focus on accessibility and mobility in new ways. Old solutions cannot cope with today’s challenges, let alone those of the future. The conclusions of the traffic inquiry are as simple as they are clear: improved infrastructure, a new pedestrian and cycle bridge and more public transport are needed, while the car must stand back and make room for people.
Fossil-free and traffic-smart Djurgården
The traffic-smart test week is an important tool for reaching our long-term goals in the Fossil-free and traffic-smart Djurgården focus area. In autumn 2021, with the traffic investigation as a basis and with the goals within our focus area Fossil-free and traffic-smart Djurgården, we formulated an assignment for a test week which entailed:
- to develop forms and set out conditions to enable a closure for car traffic at the Djurgårdsbron itself.
- that most parking spaces in what is called the Event Park will be closed, except for e.g., accommodation and disabled parking.
- that the parking areas are transformed into experience areas filled with wonderful attractions and activities.
Djurgårdsbron is closed every year on Saturdays, Sundays, and weekends from early April to early October. Controls have been done in the proximity of the Biological Museum, which is a challenge as many people drive over the bridge despite the ban. With the test week, the desire was to really close the bridge to public car traffic and thus manage the controls on Strandvägen. To make the test possible, consensus, large investments and extensive coordination between the stakeholders and other relevant actors were required. During the late autumn and spring, a group with representatives from the Royal Djurgården Society, the Royal Djurgården Administration and the Traffic Office in the City of Stockholm gathered to develop a practical plan for how a closure could be implemented regarding traffic flows, checkpoints and permit management. Together, it was decided that the test week would be carried out in the first week of June
An eventful week in June
The first week of June was particularly eventful. The UN’s major environmental conference Stockholm +50, the Stockholm Marathon, Sweden’s National Day and the Navy’s 500th anniversary are some of the major events that took place, and which affected the traffic situation in general. This meant that Visit Stockholm together with us and in broad cooperation produced a general message for Stockholm during this week. Together, we urged guests not to take the car to the city center during the period. Our communication started with the same message. We welcomed our guests and recommended other ways to get here: When the Royal Djurgården is at its most exciting, we welcome everyone – except the car.
The joint communication around our test week was an important part of the project. In a broad collaboration between stakeholders, KDI (Royal Djurgården Society), KDF (Royal Djurgården Administration), Visit Stockholm, the region and the city, we worked to welcome everyone with a positive message – Welcome by public transport, walking and cycling. In posters, advertisements, on the web and on social media, we worked together to get our message out.
Here are some examples of how the stakeholders communicated the test week:
Activated parking areas
Some of the parking spaces that were closed during the period were used for children’s activities. At the parking by Galärvarvet, below Junibacken, 240 children had the opportunity to attend cycling school, and at Nordiska Museet, the parking lot’s asphalt was transformed into a sea of flowers with the help of street chalk. And in Galärvarvsparken, the art installation Tipping Point – with a climate theme – was displayed in a temporary exhibition tent. The installation was presented by Liljevalch’s art gallery, where several conversations about the artwork’s climate theme also took place.
What happens now?
The test was carried out as an important part of reaching our long-term goals and has given us answers to questions regarding more permanent shutdowns in the future. For a more accessible and a fossil-free and traffic-smart Djurgården, more pedestrian and cycle paths are required, the planned pedestrian and cycle bridge between Junibacken and Strandvägen must be built and more frequent departures with buses, trams and the Djurgård ferry are needed. It also requires that we change our behavior patterns together and adjust for a more sustainable future. The Royal Djurgården Society will pursue these issues together with the Royal Djurgården Administration in the form of continued talks with the city and the region, and together with the various stakeholders and businesses on Djurgården. It is only together that we can take on the challenges of today and the future.
- The traffic test was carried out in collaboration between the Royal Djurgården Administration, the Royal Djurgården Society and the Stockholm City Traffic Administration.
- The Djurgård’s bridge was closed to public car traffic already at Strandvägen and right turns from Strandvägen onto the bridge were prohibited.
- 484 parking spaces were closed within the Event Park. Motorists were instead recommended 1,418 parking spaces within walking distance at Östermalm and Gärdet. Garnisonen opened additional parking spaces to the public during the trial.
- Trials were communicated via advertisements, via the various channels of the actors of Djurgården, via social media and a general information campaign in collaboration with Visit Stockholm and the City of Stockholm, as well as in direct collaboration with the region. Information signs greeted visitors at the Djurgård’s bridge and on Djurgårdsstrand.
- The parking operator Level Group manned the crossing at the bridge with traffic controllers who informed about the closure, let through authorized traffic and pointed out other traffic alternatives.
- The various actors on Djurgården indicated that they were well informed about the experiment in order to inform staff and visitors.
- Feared chaos along Strandvägen and Narvavägen etc. did not occur.
- The parking spaces were used for other purposes. Among other things, 240 children were allowed to attend cycling school during the trial period.
- Public transport ran extra services during the trial period and the Djurgård ferry, celebrating its 125th anniversary, broke a record on June 4, when 33,435 passengers took the ferry.
- The following extra Djurgård ferries were in service:June 2-3: three ferries, compared to the normal two, June 4-6: four ferries, compared to the normal two.
- 106 people were interviewed during the week (94 visitors, 12 worked at Djurgården)
- 26% indicated that they knew about the trial.
- 85% were positive about a future car-free Djurgården, 6% were negative, 9% saw advantages and disadvantages or did not want to take a stand.
- 90% did not indicate car as an option when asked how they would prefer to get to Djurgården (multiple answers possible), 40% indicated walking as an option and 33% indicated walking as the only option.of the repeat visitors – those who visit Djurgården more than 14 times/year, (46)
- 96% stated that they wanted to get to Djurgården without a car, while 4% of the repeat visitors prefer to go to Djurgården by car.
Royal Djurgården works together for sustainable infrastructure. (9.4)
The traffic-smart test week is part of the work to reduce the city’s environmental impact in terms of emissions, noise and congestion, through improved public transport and more space for walking and cycling. (11.2,6)
Royal Djurgården’s work for a fossil-free Djurgården promotes the climate. Through the traffic-smart test week, Royal Djurgården is exerting influence to reduce the CO2 emissions of private cars. (13.2)
Djurgården’s actors enter into collaborations with the city and region to improve the future traffic situation on Djurgården (17.17)