Listen Download Podcast
  • RFI English News flash 04h00 - 04h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 04h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 04h10 - 04h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 04h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 05h00 - 05h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 05h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 05h10 - 05h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 05h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h00 - 06h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 06h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h10 - 06h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 06h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h30 - 06h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 06h30 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h33 - 06h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 06h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h00 - 07h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 07h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h30 - 07h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 07h30 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 10/21 14h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h06 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/19 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 14h03 - 14h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 10/21 14h03 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h06 - 14h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/19 14h06 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h30 - 14h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 14h30 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h33 - 14h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 14h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 10/21 16h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h06 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 10/19 16h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h03 - 16h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 10/21 16h03 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h30 - 16h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 16h30 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h33 - 17h00 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 10/21 16h33 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.
Afp

Drivers see red over Oslo's green 'war on cars'

By AFP
media Oslo has devised a series of highly dissuasive measures: it has eliminated 700 parking spots, re-zoned the city centre, turned streets into pedestrian walkways, and has raised the price of congestion tolls AFP

Determined to go green, Oslo is slowly but surely ridding its city centre of motorists, angering some who say the "war on cars" is putting the brakes on individual freedoms.

"We have to give the city back to the people, so children can play safely, so elderly people can have more benches to sit on," argues Hanna Marcussen outside Oslo's City Hall, its cobblestone square recently blocked off to traffic.

"In order to do that, you have to get rid of cars, which take up a disproportionate amount of space," the Greens city councillor in charge of urban development says.

While they may not seem spectacular, Oslo has devised a series of highly dissuasive measures: it has eliminated 700 parking spots, re-zoned the city centre, turned streets into pedestrian walkways, and has raised the price of congestion tolls.

It's not the outright ban that was initially feared -- and which prompted one lawmaker to call it "a Berlin Wall against motorists".

But in a 1.9-square-kilometer (0.7-square-mile) zone in Oslo's centre -- where some 5,500 people live and 120,000 people work -- the only cars to be seen are taxis, vehicles for the handicapped, emergency vehicles and a few lost and confused motorists.

"In 2020, we will have eliminated most private cars," says Hanna Marcussen.

Sidewalk cafes can already be seen popping up, as well as outdoor furniture, bike paths and bike stands.

Designated "European Green Capital" by the European Commission for 2019, Oslo hopes the move will purify its air, encourage more cultural activities and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which it aims to cut by 95 percent by 2030.

Oslo is spearheading a broader trend, with other big cities like Paris, Madrid, Brussels and Helsinki all trying to reverse from the car-based society.

"What is most tragic about this war on cars is that politicians are attacking people's freedoms and their wallets," protests Jarle Aabo.

A public relations executive, he writes the newsletter "Yes to Cars in Oslo", which counts almost 23,000 members on Facebook -- where comments are at times harsh.

"What people fear is that the centre of Oslo will die, that it will become a very depressing place," he says, contradicting the official line.

"I don't know how all of this is going to end but I don't think happy cyclists are going to come do street performances and dances in January when it's -20°C (-4 F) with snow up to their knees."

- Shopkeepers worried -

And yet, cyclists are thrilled.

"It's going to be great," says Christopher Olsson, a photographer who usually bikes around town. "There are a lot of conflicts between motorists and cyclists."

"But if we totally eliminate cars, we need to improve public transport, both in terms of price and quality," he adds.

And that's a big problem.

With a single ticket costing almost six euros ($7), public transport remains expensive. Users also complain about delays and problems, made worse when they have to wait in subzero temperatures in winter.

While more than half of residents are in favour of a city centre "with as few cars as possible", some shopkeepers are not happy.

A stone's throw from City Hall, a bed store located inside a "no-car" zone since June 1 is glaringly empty.

"Our clients complain that they can't come," owner Terje Cosma explains.

"We sell merchandise that you can't walk out with under your arm, so a lot of them are dependent on cars."

While the shop's sales were doing well until June, business has since collapsed.

Two neighbouring boutiques have already closed up shop. Customers are heading to large shopping centres outside the city instead.

"Restaurants, cafes and bars will probably benefit, but not specialised shops. We'll lose variety," laments Cosma.

Marcussen remains nonetheless confident.

"With or without cars, a city centre will always change shape over time," she insists.

"If there's one place where I really think shops will continue to do well, it's in city centres where you can combine shopping with outings to cultural events or restaurants."

 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.