Norway’s capital wants to ban cars from its city center, once and for all

More room for walking, shopping, and everything else that can’t be done in a car.
More room for walking, shopping, and everything else that can’t be done in a car.
Image: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett
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It’s the beginning of the end for the automobile in Europe. Just weeks after Paris banned cars from its urban center for a day, the Norwegian capital of Oslo is now claiming that its own center will be permanently car-free by 2019.

Announced today (Oct. 19) by the city council, Oslo’s plan would permanently eliminate cars from the city center within the next four years. Some 90,000 people work in the area, but the city council—a newly-elected leftist coalition—has promised that car transportation will be replaced with more than 60 kilometers (37 miles) of new bicycle lanes and a massive expansion in public transportation services.

Buses, cars for disabled people, and vehicles bringing store inventory will still be allowed, reports Reuters. Oslo’s 350,000 personal cars, though, will have to stay out.

Oslo’s municipal authorities hope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in five years to 50% of what they were back in 1990. By 2019, it also aims to cut automobile traffic across the entire city—not just the city center—to 20%.

Already, concerns exist about the ban: Out of Oslo’s 57 shopping centers, 11 are in the planned car-free zone, and businessmen who operate those centers are squirming about the potential losses in consumer traffic. But if Norway’s previous determination in weaning people off fossil fuels is any indication, the city council will nonetheless do all it can to push the plan through.