This article is 3 months old
Athlyn Cathcart-Keays in Oslo
“It simply stated that shortly, parking spaces in these streets would disappear and bicycle lanes would be built,” says Sandberg. He spoke to neighbours, and learned they had all received the same note. “This came as a total surprise and shock.”
More people own cars in Frogner than in most other parts of Oslo – 38% household ownership, compared to roughly 30% in other central neighbourhoods – and the idea of losing all their parking space to bike lanes did not appeal.
“We are not against cycling,” says Sandberg, who now leads a campaign to save the parking spaces. “We do, however, believe that cycling is not the only reason for the chosen routes – it is definitely also meant to force a maximum number of cars out.”
This was, in truth, exactly the plan. When a progressive political alliance took power over Oslo’s city council in October 2015, they had made one of their first priorities a greener and more liveable environment in the city. With an almost 30% increase in population expected by 2040, the Norwegian capital was worried about its carbon footprint.
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The biggest bugbear, however, was transport, which accounts for 61% of the city’s CO2 emissions – a full 39% of it coming from private cars.
Yet the council presided over a city that already boasted the world’s highest proportion of electric vehicles, and ran a third of its bus fleet on fossil fuel alternatives. What more could be done?
One big idea: ban cars from the city centre. If pulled off, the plan would see Oslo become the first major European city to have a permanent, complete no-car-zone, racing ahead of a long list of cities seeking to do the same.