For a country with only 5,000,000 inhabitants, Norway is proposing to invest an incredible amount of money in upgrading its bicycle commuting infrastructure. As part of a plan announced last week, the country will invest $923 million to create 10 broad, two lane, cross country bicycle highways in and around Norway’s nine largest cities. A key component of the plan is to slash Norway’s transportation emissions by 50%. According to CityLab, the new bikeways will link the 9 cities to the outer suburbs, extending the protected bicycle network outward from urban cores through the commuter belt and into the countryside beyond.
The plan faces some stern opposition. Norway is not exactly balmy most of the year. And it has lots of hills that bicyclists will have to contend with. Ultimately, the Norwegian government hopes to convince as much as 20% of all commuters to bike to work rather than take an automobile. Some think if the plan goes forward, the country will see a surge in the sale of electric bicycles. Overall, Norway would like to have a zero increase in in the number of cars driving on its roads between now and 2030.
The payoff for Norway will be lower carbon emissions leading to higher life expectancy and better health for its citizens. That’s assuming any of them choose to pedal their way through Norway’s dark, semi-frozen winter days on a regular basis. Perhaps Norway will need to adopt a “pay to pedal” program like the one proposed for Milan.
Photo credit: Flickr/Bent Sigmund Olsen via CityLab