BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
Norway has just announced another reason why it’s one of the best places on Earth. Earlier this month in Oslo, Norway, the government began offering its residents money to buy an electric cargo bike. Previously to this initiative, already eight per cent of commuters in Oslo ride a bike. With this new plan the city plans to more than double that amount to 25 per cent.
The program is designed to help residents purchase cargo electric bikes that are big enough to hold big loads like groceries, that can carry children and that can handle the hilly city.The government is offering as much as $1,200 towards the purchase. Electric bikes range in price from $2,500 to $6,400, meaning the city is paying anywhere from 25 to 50 per cent of the cost.
Within two hours of the city announcing this plan on February 1, all of the individual grants had run out. However, funds for companies and housing co-ops, which have different requirements, are still available.
“Some people have cargo bikes in Oslo, but a lot of people don’t know what they are and what they can do,” said Liv Jorun Andenes, who works on bike projects with the city’s environmental agency. “For many people, this is an unknown concept or product. By giving funding, [the city] could give those bikes a push into the market.”
When the city ran a similar program last year, a study found that those who were supported by grants increased their biking by 30 per cent.
According to Business Insider, Norway has pledged $1 billion nationwide for new bike-related infrastructure, including more electric bikes and new bike paths. This is in response to worsening air pollution and the goal to lessen residents’ dependence on cars.
In Oslo specifically, the city is working towards building a well-maintained bikeway grid throughout the city, which will include 50 new miles of bike lanes. With the growing amount of bikers in the city, eventually cars will be phased out; more than 1,000 parking spaces will be replaced by new bike lanes. And by 2019, cars will be banned from the city centre all together.