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How Oslo has all but eliminated cyclist and pedestrian deaths

Norwegian capital removed all car parking from city centre and turned it into bike lanes

Earlier this week, we reported how Oslo recorded zero pedestrian or cyclist fatalities on its roads in 2019. Every serious accident is one too many,” said Ingrid Dahl Hovland, Norway’s top road administrator in response to the news. “The fight against traffic death and serious injuries in traffic continues with unabated strength.”

Oslo, which has a population of about 673,000, has introduced a number of initiatives in recent years as it works towards its Vision Zero goal of eliminating not just all pedestrian and cyclist deaths but also all serious injuries.

A city centre car ban was implemented this year, but the city has been gradually working towards this since it was first announced in 2015.

Curbed reported how the city increased its congestion charge in 2017 and that move that went hand in hand with the removal of all on-street parking. The recovered space has been used to create more pavements and another 60km of bike lanes.

Clarence Eckerson, who made the film below, was impressed with what he saw when he visited, saying: “We just need to stop providing car parking everywhere, stop requiring it of builders and start removing on-street parking in congested city centres. More parking always means more cars.”

Oslo: The Journey to Car-free from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

Further out in the city, speed limits were reduced and “heart zones” were introduced where motor vehicles are not permitted to pick up or drop off children near primary schools.

In 2017, the proportion of trips taken by bike in Oslo was 8.3%. It is now 16% and the city is aiming for 25% by 2025.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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15 comments

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ktache | 4 years ago
0 likes

Who is being demonised?

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Jem PT | 4 years ago
1 like

I love these videos of Scandanavian cities where everyone is riding around with a smile on their face and it is never raining! yes

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Christopher TR1 | 4 years ago
2 likes

Wow, how can I move to Oslo? I want to force the German govenment/transport nobs to watch this video and learn how it should be done. If only for the air quality, it is a huge achievement and yet didn't seem all that difficult to implement.

I must say though that I can see IamJoeCav's point: Any shared-use infrastructure which mixes pedestrians, dog walkers and cyclists invariably slows things down for the cyclist. I also spotted quite a few shots of cyclists riding along streets next to tram lines, which is very dangerous. So yeah, not perfect but a massive improvement on the cities which I've cycled in. Kudos.

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Rik Mayals unde... | 4 years ago
8 likes

We can discuss these issues until the cows come home, but we all know that it will never change in the UK. Successive Governments know about the pollution, and roads casualties and deaths, but are still hell bent on building more and more roads, thinking that more roads will mean less congestion. We need a huge change in direction to move forward. We need very stiff penalties for motorists guilty of speeding, jumping red lights, using the mobile behind the wheel etc etc etc. Only then can we hope that things will improve for cycling. 

Lancashire county council have a woeful attitude towards cycling, there has been a huge leap in road building around Preston, but the roads and traffic light sequencing are appalling. There is just more congestion, more angry people behind the wheel. And their contribution to cycle lanes is just adding a bit of tarmac to a pavement, box ticked.

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massive4x4 replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 4 years ago
1 like
biker phil wrote:

We can discuss these issues until the cows come home, but we all know that it will never change in the UK. Successive Governments know about the pollution, and roads casualties and deaths, but are still hell bent on building more and more roads, thinking that more roads will mean less congestion. We need a huge change in direction to move forward. We need very stiff penalties for motorists guilty of speeding, jumping red lights, using the mobile behind the wheel etc etc etc. Only then can we hope that things will improve for cycling. 

Lancashire county council have a woeful attitude towards cycling, there has been a huge leap in road building around Preston, but the roads and traffic light sequencing are appalling. There is just more congestion, more angry people behind the wheel. And their contribution to cycle lanes is just adding a bit of tarmac to a pavement, box ticked.

The part of Oslo used for this statistic (Oslo city not the full urban area) has a population of 650,000 they had 1 traffic related death last year.

In the UK 4 urban areas around half this size (260-310,000), Bexley, Newcastle, Nottingham, Wandsworth have had 2 years with zero road deaths in the last 5 years/

I don't think therefore that this is statistically significantly different to the outcomes achieved in the UK.

https://www.dekra-vision-zero.com/map/

We can also compare to London in the UK, Greater London is 13 time bigger than Oslo.

112 people were killed on Londons roads in 2018; if it had the same population that would equate to 9 deaths. Oslo had 1 death however this doesn't mean it is 9 times safer as 9/650,000 vs 1/650,000 are functionally the same outcome and road deaths are sufficently rare as to produce "lumpy" statistics.

Last year the number of road deaths were 5 in Oslo and 3, 4, 5 in the previous years.

Also note that no under 16 was killed in a RTA in 2018 in London (pop bigger than Norway)

For all the lack of provision for cyclists UK roads are overal the safest in the world of any comparably sized country.

This doesn't mean that there is not serious room for improvement of the protection of vulnerable road users but it  is useful to keep in perspective that we do a lot well and not to demonise the majority when calling for these improvements.

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TheFatAndTheFurious replied to massive4x4 | 4 years ago
2 likes
massive4x4 wrote:

For all the lack of provision for cyclists UK roads are overal the safest in the world of any comparably sized country.

Picking up some stats from "Global bicycle cities index 2019":

Fatality rate / 100k cyclists:  

London: 0.68, Edinburgh: 0.95, Bristol: 0.58
Nice 0.92, Nantes 0.77, Paris 0.75, Bordeaux 0.72, Strasbourg 0.63
Hanover 2.99, Berlin 0.58, Dortmund 0.39
Oslo: 0.53 

Accidents / 100k cyclists:

London: 1299, Edinburgh: 1175, Bristol: 1054
Nice 389, Nantes 325, Paris 318, Bordeaux 305, Strasbourg 267
Hanover 773, Berlin 407, Dortmund 147
Oslo 226

France and Germany rates are interesting - more likely to die, but much less likely to have an accident. (Many more German cities on that site - I picked worst, Berlin and best, and other countries there to pick from. Accident rates in US cities are appalling...).

I think it's safe to say that you are considerably safer when riding a bike in Oslo than most anywhere else in terms of being killed, and way less likely to have an accident than if in the UK.

 

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ktache | 4 years ago
3 likes

Very well done Oslo.

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IAmJoeCav | 4 years ago
0 likes

I commuted/cycled to work in London as I was brought up there, and moved to Oslo about 4 years ago and commute/cycle around the area. 

Although there's no deaths in Oslo, I do actually think it's a 'worse' place to cycle than London. Whilst there's vehicle free zones, it doesn't make drivers any better at knowing how to share/drive on roads with cyclists. 

There's also a lack of education for cyclists, with many jumping red lights, not being aware of other users of the road, and questionable bike light choices for a country that gets 19 hours of darkness in the depths of winter. 

Its a fantastic achievement and proves that cities can create infrastructure for a 21st century vision, but just wanted to point out that it's not all roses and rainbows in Norway. 
 

Ironically, that road in the picture above (Youngstorget) is the worst road in the city. No cars allowed to drive up and down it, but there are cars driving across it. As it's a no vehicle street, pedestrians cross without looking and walk in the middle of the road. Nobody knows who has priority, which leads to confusion and accidents. Would be interested to see the minor injury data for that location! 
 

 

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BehindTheBikesheds replied to IAmJoeCav | 4 years ago
4 likes
IAmJoeCav wrote:

There's also a lack of education for cyclists, with many jumping red lights, not being aware of other users of the road, and questionable bike light choices for a country that gets 19 hours of darkness in the depths of winter. 

Its a fantastic achievement and proves that cities can create infrastructure for a 21st century vision, but just wanted to point out that it's not all roses and rainbows in Norway. 
Ironically, that road in the picture above (Youngstorget) is the worst road in the city. No cars allowed to drive up and down it, but there are cars driving across it. As it's a no vehicle street, pedestrians cross without looking and walk in the middle of the road. Nobody knows who has priority, which leads to confusion and accidents. Would be interested to see the minor injury data for that location! 

What do you mean by bike light choices?

In a cycle dominated country are lights that important, people with front lights to see by, motorists and people on bikes, will always be able to see unlit objects if they are obeying the rules of the road and giving themselves leaway/enough thinking time for unexpected hazards, so it shouldn't be much of an issue. Most urban areas have street lights anyway so it's never an excuse not to see people whatever mode of transport they are using, be it foot, bike or motor.

As we know on the thinking of light systems, it generally causes the 'racing' attitude, examples even in London when traffic lights have been down show that removing them can have very positive results regarding both safety and flow of traffic. If you watch some Dutch road intersections with non segregated lanes, some that have many cyclists, cars and trams all bearing down on to the same junction, we know it works without lights.

There are deeper psychological factors at work, getting everyone onto the same page with the mentality toward safety, and yes, including some people on bikes is how we make travel safer for everyone, particularly vulnerable road users.

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Captain Badger replied to IAmJoeCav | 4 years ago
7 likes

Two points I'd like to bring forward...

IAmJoeCav wrote:

Although there's no deaths in Oslo, I do actually think it's a 'worse' place to cycle than London. Whilst there's vehicle free zones, it doesn't make drivers any better at knowing how to share/drive on roads with cyclists. 

No road deaths v over a hundred annually in London. Sounds a ghastly place

IAmJoeCav wrote:

Ironically, that road in the picture above (Youngstorget) is the worst road in the city. No cars allowed to drive up and down it, but there are cars driving across it. As it's a no vehicle street, pedestrians cross without looking and walk in the middle of the road. Nobody knows who has priority, which leads to confusion and accidents. Would be interested to see the minor injury data for that location! 

knowing who has priority is great, until someone gets it wrong. Then it's invariably the vulnerable who get hurt. btw, pedestrians always have priority - you aren't supposed to drive over them, you have to stop if they are in front of you....

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IAmJoeCav | 4 years ago
4 likes

I commuted/cycled to work in London as I was brought up there, and moved to Oslo about 4 years ago and commute/cycle around the area. 

Although there's no deaths in Oslo, I do actually think it's a 'worse' place to cycle than London. Whilst there's vehicle free zones, it doesn't make drivers any better at knowing how to share/drive on roads with cyclists. 

There's also a lack of education for cyclists, with many jumping red lights, not being aware of other users of the road, and questionable bike light choices for a country that gets 19 hours of darkness in the depths of winter. 

Its a fantastic achievement and proves that cities can create infrastructure for a 21st century vision, but just wanted to point out that it's not all roses and rainbows in Norway. 
 

Ironically, that road in the picture above (Youngstorget) is the worst road in the city. No cars allowed to drive up and down it, but there are cars driving across it. As it's a no vehicle street, pedestrians cross without looking and walk in the middle of the road. Nobody knows who has priority, which leads to confusion and accidents. Would be interested to see the minor injury data for that location! 
 

 

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burtthebike replied to IAmJoeCav | 4 years ago
8 likes
IAmJoeCav wrote:

I commuted/cycled to work in London as I was brought up there, and moved to Oslo about 4 years ago and commute/cycle around the area. 

Although there's no deaths in Oslo, I do actually think it's a 'worse' place to cycle than London. Whilst there's vehicle free zones, it doesn't make drivers any better at knowing how to share/drive on roads with cyclists. 

There's also a lack of education for cyclists, with many jumping red lights, not being aware of other users of the road, and questionable bike light choices for a country that gets 19 hours of darkness in the depths of winter. 

Its a fantastic achievement and proves that cities can create infrastructure for a 21st century vision, but just wanted to point out that it's not all roses and rainbows in Norway. 
 

Ironically, that road in the picture above (Youngstorget) is the worst road in the city. No cars allowed to drive up and down it, but there are cars driving across it. As it's a no vehicle street, pedestrians cross without looking and walk in the middle of the road. Nobody knows who has priority, which leads to confusion and accidents. Would be interested to see the minor injury data for that location! 

With all due respect, the proof of the pudding is bleedin' obvious.  Maybe Oslo isn't the paradise you'd like it to be, but it's a lot better than dozens of dead people.

The situation on Youngstorget of no priority, is probably deliberate, as if no-one knows who has right of way, they all take more care, a well established, proven method of improving safety.  If if is as dangerous as you claim, how come there are no deaths?  Compare it to most countries where priority is defined, and you'll find it considerably less dangerous.

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handlebarcam | 4 years ago
6 likes

I guess this is the sort of horrible communism that people were talking about, and millions of pounds worth of targetted Facebook adverts were warning of, during the election last month. Actually, there are probably some people who'd acquiesce to an extreme Stalinist regime, but would yell bloody murder if a work crew came to remove the on-street parking space outside their house.

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burtthebike | 4 years ago
10 likes

We know what the answer to reducing deaths and injuries on the road is, but we ignore it and push helmets.  If facts changed people's minds or influenced decision makers we'd live in a very different world.

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Simon E replied to burtthebike | 4 years ago
8 likes
burtthebike wrote:

We know what the answer to reducing deaths and injuries on the road is, but we ignore it and push helmets.  If facts changed people's minds or influenced decision makers we'd live in a very different world.

By 'we' I guess you mean so-called road safety orgs that are puppets working to further the interests of drivers or vehicle manufacturers. They are the ones preserving the status quo, selling the fantasy of 'freedom' of cars (and helmets for cyclists). They don't give a f**k about anyone else, whether it's acute issues like NMOTD and the dreadful casualty statistics we read about every year to the chronic suffering of anyone who lives, works or even breathes next to a busy road. Because anyone with that perspective would get roasted alive on here. I'd be up for that. surprise

There are a handful of people in a position to make a difference, most visibly Andy Burnham and Chris Boardman in Manchester but they are a tiny minority. Ped- and cyclist-friendly cities like Oslo, Copenhagen and much of the Netherlands are the examples this country should be following.

Quote:

The Dutch cycle 15 billion km every year, which saves their healthcare system €19 billion. They've achieved this by doubling the size of their bike network since 1996, and they now spend €595 million annually on cycling, or €35 per resident. In England we spend £7 per person.

https://twitter.com/anotherJon/status/1213367316571971586

(some useful links in that twitter thread BTW)

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