Oslo is Planning to Permanently Ban Cars By 2019

Toronto may want to take a cue from Norway’s capital – Oslo is planning to permanently ban cars in its downtown core by 2019.

In its plan to eliminate all automobiles from its city centre within the next few years, the city will build 60 kilometres of bike lanes and invest heavily in public transport. The ban marks the largest of its kind, said Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, according to Tech Insider.

Of course, the move is a smart one when it comes to the environment and air quality, with cars acting as a major source of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide pollution.

Not only will the ban reduce pollution and traffic in the downtown core, but it will also make it safer for those on foot or bike. As most of us Torontonians know, navigating the downtown core by car is often the most inefficient way to move through the city. It’s often quicker simply to walk. Not to mention, the extra space once consumed by cars may be redirected to things that better the city, like cafes, parks, bicycle parking, and wider sidewalks.

Oslo isn’t the first city to employ such an initiative. Last year, Madrid announced a plan to eliminate cars from over 500 acres of the city by 2020. Other European cities have done the same, but not to this speed and scale. Copenhagen introduced pedestrian zones back in the 60s, and car-free zones followed shortly after. Just last month, Paris enforced a ban of cars from its major landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Whether the idea catches on in North America obviously remains to be seen, however, it would be pretty great if it did. After all, parks are a lot prettier than parking lots.