Oslo will soon become a motor-free metropolis with cars being banned from the city centre from 2019 in an attempt to reduce pollution, local politicians announced on Monday.
The Norwegian city will comprehensively ban cars from its central region in an aim to halve CO2 emissions in five years and reduce them by 95 per cent by 2030.
Despite some capitals implementing temporary bans – such as the single no-car day in Paris in September this year – Oslo will be the first European capital to introduce a permanent stop to privately-owned motoring on its streets.
The newly elected city council, made up of the Labour Party, the Green Party and the Socialist Left, said the plans to ban cars from the centre would benefit all citizens, though some shop owners fear the move will hurt business.
‘We want to have a car-free centre,’ Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, lead negotiator for the Green Party in Oslo, told reporters on Monday.
‘We want to make it better for pedestrians, cyclists. It will be better for shops and everyone,’ he added.
Oslo has around 600,000 inhabitants and almost 350,000 cars in the whole city. Most car owners live outside the city centre area affected but within Oslo’s boundaries.
The council has promised to build at least 60 kilometres of bicycle lanes by the time the car-ban is introduced in four years time in a move to encourage more people to cycle around the city centre.
However, there will be exceptions to the four-wheeled no-go zone – arrangements will be found for cars carrying disabled people and vehicles transporting goods to stores.
The plans will create a ‘massive boost’ for the public transport network, with buses and trams continuing their operation from 2019 onward, the three parties said in a joint declaration.
The new city authorities also plan to divest fossil fuels from their pension funds.
Oslo city council will hold consultations, study the experiences of other cities and conduct trial runs, though no details of how the ban is going to be implemented have been released.
Several European capitals have previously introduced temporary car bans in their city centres – Paris conducted ‘Une Journée Sans Voiture’, translating to ‘A Day Without Car’, on September 27th this year restricting any vehicle but ambulances to use Parisian streets to benefit tourism in the city.
But the move to permanently ban all private cars from the city centre is unprecedented and a far more extreme take on reducing pollution than those due to be introduced in the UK.
From 2020, London will incorporate Ultra Low Emissions Zones for all cars, motorcycles, vans, buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles.
All vehicles will need to meet strict exhaust emission standards, or pay an additional charge, when travelling in central London.
The area covered by the ULEZ is the same as the current Congestion Charge Zone and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Cameras will read your number plate as you enter, leave or drive within the zone and check it against the database of those who meet the ULEZ standards or need to pay the daily charge.