Within a few years, finding a parking space in the business center of Oslo won’t be a problem. Every parking space will be available all the time, because there won’t be any cars allowed downtown to fill them. Oslo plans to eliminate cars from its city center by 2019.
Norway is very progressive when it comes to an emissions free lifestyle. Although it has abundant fossil fuel reserves, it sells its coal, petroleum and natural gas to other countries. It gets more than 90% of its electricity from renewable sources, mostly hydroelectric plants powered by Norway’s many fast flowing mountain streams and rivers.
Norway offers huge incentives to drivers of electric cars. Not only are they exempt from import duties, they are also exempt from the national car registration fees that average $12,500 per vehicle. There are other benefits as well. Electric cars get free passage for all of Norway’s bridges,tunnels, and ferries. They also get to use HOV lanes at all times. Is it any wonder that EVs now comprise 2% of all cars on the road in Norway and account for 20% of all new car sales?
Now Oslo intends to reduce carbon pollution in the city center and improve the quality of life for everyone who lives or works there by banning all cars completely by 2019. The Oslo City Council told Reuters recently, “We want to make it better for pedestrians, cyclists. It will be better for shops and everyone.”
That will require more than just blocking every major artery with concrete barriers. If order for the plan to work, Oslo will need to make a major investment in public transportation infrastructure. Among other improvements, it plans to add 37 miles of new bicycle paths throughout the inner city, as well as a new system for handicap shuttles and supply trucks to access the city, according to a report in Jalopnik.
Not only will the plan remove almost 350,000 vehicles from the city center, it will also significantly lower noise pollution for the people who live and work there. Environmental concerns are all well and good, but quality of life issues are important, too.
Photo credit: Jalopnik