Make no mistake. Cycling in Oslo is a far cry from cycling in Amsterdam, Copenhagen or even a newbie bicycle city like Seville. But Oslo is the darling of the 2017 Index, as Seville and Buenos Aires once were. Indeed, Oslo has broken the record for the highest rise in the ranking.
This is truly a re-emerging bicycle city trying to find a balance between the spandex warriors and the regular citizens who are embracing the bicycle for transport.
Oslo is the city in the Top 20 with the lowest baseline score but it is Best in Class regarding bonus points and that boosted them out of bicycle urbanism obscurity.
We already sounded the horn in 2016, labelling Oslo as The Next Big Bicycle City. The new political coalition wasted no time in starting work in supporting the existing efforts to encourage cycling. The city centre will be closed to private cars by 2019, car parking is being removed in impressive numbers and new infrastructure is being implemented, including a bicycle street. Subsidies for buying cargo bikes are the cherry on the bicycle cake.
The city’s Bicycle Agency (Sykkelprojsektet), led by the tireless Rune Gjøs, has been instrumental in leading the charge. Oslo is the city in the world with the most people employed to work on cycling as transport.
In a response to the national road directorate’s old fashioned and restrictive infrastructure standards, Oslo just went ahead and created what they call The Oslo Standard. Outlining in no uncertain terms, their desire to upgrade and modernise.
The city has an impressive bike share system that grows from strength to strength.
Keep an eye on Oslo. It has hills and winter and it shrugs it off in its desire to design a bicycle-friendly future.
Whether Oslo is a one-hit wonder on the Index like other cities have been remains to be seen. The political pressure that The Oslo Standard was designed to place on national authorities needs to be carved in stone to allow the city to move forward with Best Practice infrastructure. We would like to see more physically separated cycle tracks now that the city is accelerating.