Over at Itching for Eestimaa, Epp mentions that the Tartu car cult is not as extensive as it is in Tallinn.
As someone who drives a lot in Tartu - this is true. Tartu traffic is a lot less frantic, and there are only a few tight spots, which can be avoided anyway (the worst being Freedom Bridge in the direction of Anneinn after 6pm on weekdays). More importantly, Tartu is generally not restricted to arteries. You can get right across town while bypassing nearly every major road.
I had the misfortune this week of attempting to drive from Järve Selver to Lasnamäe around 6pm on a Tuesday. The tailbacks on approach to the dreaded Tartu/Järvevana junction were so bad - from all directions - that I decided to take the clever long way around, and buggered off to the Tallinn ring road. It's a bypass that connects all three major freeways (maybe Paldiski maantee too, never got that far) some distance outside city limits. It was maybe a 40km trip, but because this was all at highway speed, and on Narva maantee the ring road feeds directly into the stunningly useful Laagna tee endcap, I'm rather convinced I did not lose much time compared to standing in the traffic jam, trying to clear a single intersection that the rest of the city was also interested in.
In Tartu, you really need to make an effort to spend more than 15 minutes driving right across the city. My drive to work, from literally the edge of town into the very center, with a bit of luck at the traffic lights can be done in less than five.
I like Tartu.
5 hours ago