A change of administration in the Norwegian capital of Oslo has led to a significant change being announced: by 2019, the city centre is to be car free, going way beyond the congestion zone that the city introduced some years ago; it would be the first permanent ban of this kind for a European capital, though several have tried temporary bans, such as Paris a few weeks ago. The car-free area is some 2 square kilometres, inside “Ring 1” of the city.
“We want to have a car-free centre”, Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, lead negotiator for the Green Party in Olso in the coalition comprising Labour, Socialist Left and Green parties, told reporters. Berg continued “we want to make it better for pedestrians, cyclists. It will be better for shops and everyone.” The young politician, who had one of her first jobs working in cycling-mecca Copenhagen, also said that “in 2030, there will still be people driving cars (in Oslo) but they must be zero-emission”.
Prior to the ban starting in 2019, the council is going to build at least 60 km of bike lanes and provide an as yet undefined “massive boost” of investment for public transport. The 3 party coalition stressed that arrangements will be made for vehicles carrying people with disabilities, as well as for vehicles bringing in goods to city centre shops.
Oslo has some 600,000 inhabitants and almost 350,000 cars. Most car owners live outside the city centre but within Oslo’s suburbs. Norwegian newspaper Verdans Gang estimated that only 1,000 live in the city centre, but 90,000 work there. The area to be covered by the ban includes 11 of the city’s 57 shopping centres.
The vehicle ban is part of a proposal to halve carbon emissions in five years, compared with the levels of 1990.
The city council has also indicated that it will provide subsidies for residents who wish to buy an e-bike.
Oslo city centre is compact and attractive and well worth a visit with much to see and do; it is also relatively flat around the waterfront area. You can find out more about guided bike tours and bike hire – as well as non-biking activities and tourism – from visitoslo.com.
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