Norway Plans to Spend $1 Billion on Bicycle Highways

Rendering of a bicycle highway in London 1 photo
Photo: Foster + Partners
Norway has ambitious plans to reduce even further the emissions in the near future, and it is aiming to build a massive infrastructure for cyclists. Around 8 billion Norwegian Kroner ($950 mil or €851 mil) will be invested in a network of "super cycleways" that cross the country.
The main idea is to build cycling-dedicated highways that connect the country's nine biggest cities and their suburban areas to the downtown zones where many of the commuters work. These roads will only be accessible to bicycles and electric bicycles, and will have two lanes.

Norwegian authorities hope that linking the inner city cores to the outskirts of urban conglomerates will draw more people to using the bicycle for commuting. Norway is among the last countries in northern Europe regarding the use of bicycles for commuting, with only 5% of the population opting for such means of transport.

In this chart, Denmark occupies the leading position, with around 17 percent of the commuters using bicycles, followed by Sweden with 12 percent. Norwegian authorities hope that better infrastructure will boost the number of cyclists to almost 20 percent by 2030.

Opposition is strong, invoking the inclement weather

As neat as this project sounds, it doesn't have full support in the country. Voices that oppose it say that such bicycle-only highways are futile because of the inclement weather in Norway.

Many of these routes cross mountains and Norway isn't exactly like California. Cold weather and snow are expected to keep these roads impracticable, opposition claims.

The advocates of the cycling highways say that if the state can keep the usual roads clear and practicable during the winter, then doing the same for the new bike-only roads should not be a huge problem.

As for the cold, they say that other countries with pretty much the same climate experience only a slight decrease in the number of bicycle commuters even when the temperatures drop significantly below the freezing point. Cities such as Oulu in Finland or Edmonton in Canada are often mentioned.

Safety is also an important matter

Cycling on these dedicated roads could allow riders to reach speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph), while keeping a high level of road safety thanks to the absence of cars. The cycle-only highways are only a part of Norway's bigger transit plans. Citylab reports that the mid-term plans require that, "by 2030, 75 percent of the country’s buses and 50 percent of its trucks must be low-emission, the new plan rules, while 40 percent of its short-distance ships and ferries (an important means of transit in Norway) must be either low emission or use biofuels."
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories