Official figures have revealed that no pedestrians, cyclists or children died on Oslo’s streets last year, with a single fatality occurring after a motorist hit a fence.
The Norwegian capital–which has a population of 673,000–has seen a steady decline in road deaths in recent years, and the figures bring the city one step closer to achieving its Vision Zero goal of no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic.
Speaking to Cities Today, Morten Nordskag, political adviser at Oslo’s environment and transport department, said: “Our record is very much linked to the investment in our bicycle strategy—we’ve increased the number of segregated cycle lanes and given more space to cyclists and pedestrians while reducing the number of cars on our streets.”
In 2017, the city initiated radical changes to create an environment where pedestrians and cyclists take precedence over private cars when an area of approximately 1.3 square kilometres was transformed.
The city government removed over 1,000 parking spaces, added more bike lanes and sidewalks, improved bike-sharing, launched public transit improvements and banned cars in some downtown areas.
Authorities also installed more speed bumps and introduced car-free zones around schools.
Arild Hermstad, Oslo’s vice mayor for environment and transport, said: “Drivers should act as guests—that’s why we’ve reduced the speed limits and parking opportunities for cars in the city centre.”
Figures show the number of deaths on Oslo’s roads has fallen sharply, down from 41 in 1975. On average, 3.6 people have died in traffic in the last five years. Ten years ago, the figure was eight.
In comparison, three people died on Helsinki’s roads–a city of similar size–in 2019, while 130 people died on London’s roads during the same period, an increase of 26 from 2018.
Oslo’s cyclists and pedestrians are involved in 60 percent of the serious traffic accidents recorded in the city, according to data from the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.
The country’s national vision zero strategy, which has been implemented since 2002 includes cutting road speeds and increasing the number of safety features in cars.
Norway is consistently the OECD’s safest country for all road users, while the US ranks last—since 2013, the number of deaths of US pedestrians and cyclists has risen by nearly 30 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
According to the World Health Organisation, road traffic injuries caused an estimated 1.35 million deaths worldwide in 2016 and were the leading cause of death for children and young adults.