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Norway to Invest $1B in ‘Super-Cycleways’

Friday, March 18, 2016

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In an effort to reduce its residents’ reliance on cars, one Scandinavian country is aiming to spend nearly $1 billion to build a new network of highways … for bikes only.

It’s not that Norway, which reported a population of just over 5 million in 2013, has a particularly robust cycling culture. Rather, it’s part of the country’s plans to reduce its transportation emissions to as close to zero as possible, Fast Company reported Tuesday (March 15).

cyclists in Norway
© iStock.com / andreusK

As part of its National Transit Plan to reduce transportation emissions, Norway plans to spend nearly US$1 billion to build a new network of highways … for bikes only.

The nation’s long-term goals are to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050, the business magazine noted.

And because much of the country’s electricity is generated by hydropower, transportation infrastructure is the primary target for achieving these reductions.

Investing in Cycling Infrastructure

Announced earlier in March, Norway’s National Transit Plan includes spending 8 billion Norwegian kroner (US$960 million) to construct 10 two-lane, cross-country, bike-only expressways, urban-focused media site CityLab reported.

These “super-cycleways,” as the Norwegians call them, will connect nine cities with surrounding suburban areas and are meant to encourage people to begin using bicycles instead of cars for daily commutes.

"Many Norwegians use their bike for sport and leisure activities rather than to commute to work and school," Marit Espeland, national cycling coordinator for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, told Fast Company.

"By constructing more and better bike paths, we will contribute to make more people feel safe and make it easier to choose their bike instead of their car."

Currently, only about 5 percent of the population uses bikes for commuting purposes, CityLab noted. The national government hopes to raise that figure to between 10 and 20 percent by 2030.

Oslo, Norway
© iStock.com / littlewormy

Geographically and climatically, Norway may not seem to be the most sensible place to encourage cycling infrastructure, but officials are hopeful that its citizens will adopt cycling for their commutes all year long.

To make them more attractive for long-distance travel, the new cycling highways will be separated from motor traffic and eliminate intersections, increasing safety for cyclists and allowing them to travel greater distances at higher speeds—up to 25 miles per hour, reports said.

Does It Make Sense?

Geographically and climatically, Norway may not seem to be the most sensible place to encourage cycling infrastructure. It’s a mountainous country in a northern region that brings it many dark, cold days throughout the year.

However, the people are said to enjoy an “outdoorsy culture” even in winter months. And since cities in similar locations—Edmonton, Canada, and Oulo, Finland—have built up a cycling infrastructure that maintains its ridership numbers even in the colder months, CityLab said, officials are hopeful that Norwegians will follow their lead.

While the concept of bike expressways is eye-catching, it’s just one part of the nation’s larger National Transit Plan.

The country will also invest in its road and rail infrastructure. The government expects to put 36 billion kroner (US$4.15 billion) into road repairs and expansions, and 18 billion kroner ($2.08 billion) will go into railway upgrades.

Trailblazing

Norway is not alone in its concept of the super-cycleway, nor will it be the first of its kind.

Germany opened its first bicycle highway at the end of 2015, Phys.Org reported in December.

Although it opened as just a three-mile stretch, it is planned to stretch to reach 60 miles and connect 10 western cities and four universities. A study conducted by regional development group RVR predicts that Germany's new bicycle commuter roads will take 50,000 cars off the roads daily, the science and technology news site said.

Additionally, the first bicycle highway in Europe was approved in London in 2015, Inhabitat noted, and others are being planned for the Netherlands and Denmark.

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Latin America; Mass transit; North America; Program/Project Management; Public Transit; Roads/Highways; Transportation

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (3/18/2016, 8:45 AM)

The fact that this article is under the heading 'off the wall' says a lot about our attitude.


Comment from Tim Race, (3/18/2016, 10:51 AM)

LOL Andrew. Same comment from me. Just didn't think anyone else would feel the same way.


Comment from M. Halliwell, (3/18/2016, 11:17 AM)

Living and working in Edmonton and having visited Scandinavia, I can say a few things about this one. First, the climate is better in Norway for year-round cycling...the Baltic and Atlantic act as moderating forces. Sure, in the northern areas, it'd be a little harder, but for most of the country, with the right bike, accessories and attitude, year round cycling is easily doable. Second, Europe has much closer cities and towns and a better commuter rail system that encourages multi-modal commuting....commuting by bike (or partly by bike) is far more realistic there. Third, the culture is far more pro-bike than in North America. Here, the bike lane is just an additional parking lane and cyclists are viewed as an impediment to those driving their trucks (or cars) on "their" roads...in many North American locations "share the road" seems to mean "bikes on the sidewalk" (which is often illegal). In Edmonton, we have 400+ km of bike lanes, multi-use trails and singletrack that one can use to get around by bike (assuming the windrows aren't put in the bike lanes)...and it is possible to ride year-round. Here's hoping this project is a success for Norway. And I agree, Andrew....not off the wall at all.


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