Norway has announced plans to spend 8 billion Norwegian Kroner (around £660m) creating 10 broad, two-lane, cross-country ‘super cycleways’ in and around its nine largest cities. The project is a key part of plans to halve the country’s transport emissions.
Citylab reports that the new cycleways will link inner cities with outer suburbs, before ultimately extending through the commuter belt into the countryside. Oslo will get two super cycleways, while eight others have also been proposed.
The plan is one of a host of measures comprising the country’s new National Transit Plan. By 2030, 75 percent of Norway’s buses and 50 percent of its trucks must be low-emission, while 40 percent of short-distance ships and ferries will have to be either low emission or powered by biofuels. The government is also looking to achieve zero growth in car use in this timespan.
Norway currently lags behind its Nordic neighbours when it comes to the proportion of journeys made by bike. According to 2014 figures, cycling accounts for just five per cent of journeys, compared to 12 per cent in Sweden and 17 per cent in Denmark. The Norwegian government wants to reach 10 to 20 percent by 2030.
Winter conditions do of course present a challenge, with North Norwegian politician Kjell-Idar Juvik telling newspaper VG Nyheter: “I find striking few measures relevant to North Norway in the plan. Right now in the winter it’s not realistic for people to throw themselves onto bikes. They already have enough trouble getting out and scraping snow off their cars.”
But locals need only look to the example set by Montreal to see that sub-zero temperatures needn’t mean putting the bike away.
As with Germany’s planned cycling highways, it is hoped that growth in the popularity of e-bikes will help ensure greater usage of the cycleways. Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen said e-bikes could change people's willingness to ride and also encourage them to travel further.