Oslo is finally emerging… – Best city – Wallpaper*

Oslo is finally emerging from the long design shadow left by its illustrious neighbours, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki.

Wallpaper lists Oslo among the 5 best cities in its Design Awards 2011! Better late than never :)
The magazine is pointing out the gentrification of Grünerløkka which has made it the hippest neighbourhood in the city. So far, so true.

Meanwhile, gentrification of the district of Grünerløkka has turned it into the city’s hot ‘hood, full of delis, boutiques, bars, clubs and restaurants.

Even so, I’m guessing we’ll always be behind the rest when it comes to continental design and lifestyles…  That’s what makes it Oslo. – A city trying to be a part of Europe, but still the capital of the not so European Norway.

Oslo’s setting between a fjord and a national park, and its manageable size, only add to its appeal, while its ecological vision makes it one of the most environmentally friendly capitals in the world.

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Break is over…

I’m sorry about the incredibly long break. I’ll try to get the blog going again, step by step, and I’ll probably continue to write in both Norwegian and English, depending on the story…

I can start by telling you that I’m jumping on the bicycle sharing-trend that’s been spreading around the world the last couple of years, and which is growing fast as we speak. What city doesn’t want to be more livable and look sustainable these days? A “short-cut” to the top might seem to be by starting a bicycle sharing program. Many cities in Europe has one, including Oslo, and now cities even in the United States are getting their eyes on the new mode of transport.

Hopefully this isn’t just a passing trend, but one that will continue growing, and change the way we think of urban mobility.

Here’s an introduction about Velíb, the gigantic French system which made great success in no time. In Paris suddenly everyone bikes… dashingly helmetless.

Picture found here

Minneapolis ftw

This video on Streetfilms explains all the buzz about Minneapolis lately… There are apparently great things going on in the Scandinavian friendly city up north… (despite their climate!)

What caught my particular attention, was the trend of bike coffeeshops! Apparently there are quite a few of this kind in the city. Lately I’ve been thinking that this would be a great thing to start in Oslo, but for now it’s just a vision. Maybe someone will get inspired by MN, and bring the vision to life sometime in the nearer future… It would most definitely make a change in how we look upon bikes in Oslo, and serve as a, in my opinion, needed meeting point and social arena.

Bike coffee shop in Minneapolis

A bike workshop and great coffee. What a fabulous combination!

bike + coffee = true

The motorized states of America are cycling more than ever. Hopefully the trend rubs off on the rest of us.

Long live the pedestrians. / Länge leve fotgängarna.

New tactic from our fellas across the border. Volvo pander the motorists worst enemy, the pedestrians, in their ads for a new (orange!) car. “Long live the pedestrians”? Are they making fun of us? (Enlighten me please.)

Volvo anno 2010

Anyhow, by reading more about the thoughts behind the ad, apparently they’re thinking outside the shell (literally). Some how this car detects pedestrians hidden from the drivers view while driving slowly around the city. “…driving slowly…”? I think we already found a fault. Even worse, they hope to improve the urban environment by adding this new wonderful car…

And did James Dean ever imagine he would front a Swedish car-campaign?

Nostalgic moments

Reclaim the streets!

An addition to the last post about owning the streets… I’d say 2009 was a kick-start for a world wide “street renaissance”. Much thanks to the newthinking New York City mayor. World cities are important trendsetters, and if motorized NYC can do it, so can we. The question is – at what phase? How soon will we reclaim the streets?

This video from Streetfilms.org shows how quickly NYC were overtaken by cars, and adresses the problems the city now faces…


And as noted before, what Oslo needs is most likely an election…

Who’s street?

A street is a paved public thoroughfare in a built environment. It is a public parcel of land adjoining buildings in an urban context, on which people may freely assemble, interact, and move about. –Wikipedia

How wonderful… But wait! I hardly remember last time I moved about freely in the streets of Oslo. It seems like ages ago when I acted like the king of the road, fearing no one. And yet it was just the very early 90’s. The pedestrians were the majority, and embraced their position for a brief while.

A road’s main function is transportation, while streets facilitate public interaction.

Even with the distinction between roads and streets I cannot say todays streets meet the function they’re entitled in theory. So how would an explanation according to practice be? Probably ending somewhat like this…

(…) on which cars may freely move, people may interact where there are no cars, and all other forms of personal transport should occur elsewhere.

The streets have changed, that’s for sure. I’ve been noticing how motorists are getting less and less observant. Is it because the roads are improved and pedestrians act more careful in the city traffic? Are there simply too few obstacles? At one point, someone got too comfortable…

It’s our street, and apparently we’ll need to take it back! How can we reverse the trend?

Cars of the future

Comment in the norwegian newspaper Dag og Tid ("Day and Time"), 5.2.2010

This talks for itself, but I’ll try to translate the comment as well as possible:
“HYBRID: India shows the way to the post-petroleum society with this pedal driven cabriolet on three wheels in Siliguri in east India. As good as emission free, and goes miles and miles just on a pile chapati… This environmental friendly model will be available in Norway by 2020, if todays oil extraction continues with the same speed.”

Climate first – People first – Bicycle first?

As probably many have noticed, yesterday was the huge climate demonstration in Copenhagen. As I passed by Charlottenborg square on my way to the library (yes someone still have some school to do), a large group of people had already gathered, and as I stood there more and more joined in. It’s so far the largest demonstration ever held on danish ground, and the newspaper Politiken says there were 100.000 people walking towards Bella Center.

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Climate Bottom Meeting

The climate meeting COP15 in Copenhagen has started today, and the city is full of people concerned with climate issues on all scales. The conference arena in Bella Centre is packed with delegates from all over the world, (and as the news said today, there was not enough space for the huge interest), a boat from Greenpeace arrived a couple of days ago, and thousands of activists, researches and other interested people from all over the world are gathering throughout the city to, in many different ways, take part of the 1,5 week long conference.

What is to be said and decided in these Climate Change meetings is uncertain and vague for me. They’ll probably not solve one single climate problem in Bella Centre (and anyhow it seems inaccessible in many ways to most people), but one already apparent result is the grand attention towards climate issues in all kinds of fora. Wherever you walk in Copenhagen you’ll either hear, see or feel there is something going on, and there are many ways to approach and participate the climate debate these days…

One opportunity is to go to Christiania, where they every single day have a “Climate Bottom Meeting” which will serve as an alternative view on the climate issue, and how we all can change the world. You’ll find the whole program on this page, but I will highlight two days which seems interesting for city planners and/or bicycle enthusiasts :)

Sunday 13th – Ecological Construction and Urban Renewal from Below Focus on sustainable building/architecture and urban change.

Monday 14th – Sustainable Energy – The Ecological Footprint Focus on new forms of energy, and how to get to the CO2-neutral society. I will definitely try to attend the part of this meeting concerning bicycles…

Transport
Moderator: Jane Kruse, Danish People’s Center.

14.20-14.40 Christoffer Lux and Anders Rosenqvist Energy-Bike and its successful story Also demonstration of the bike by children from Christiania
15.00-15.15 Per Jørgensen Møller, Engeneer & President of the Danish Committee for Electric Cars The cars of the future
15.20-15.50 Esben Larsen & Chresten Træholt, lecturer at the Danish Technical University and students from DTU Electric cars, what then?
15.55-16.15 Holger Jørgensen, Bicyclelogical Institute The modern Transport-structure with coupling to climate care and bicycle traffic
16.20-16.30 Lars Engstrøm and Annie Lerche, Christiania Bikes The fairytale of the Christiania bikes
Jane Kruse outlines and introduces the hall to:
16.35-16.50 Lars Barfoed (Conservative Party), transport minister ‘Future Transport System  in Denmark’ Mike Legarth (CP), spokeman for Christiania

No bicycle city

A couple of weeks ago this image dumped into my inbox twice, from two different friends… It’s an article from a Norwegian newspaper telling about the top five and bottom five bicycle cities in Norway. Of course Oslo is in the bottom five. :(

It’s definitely a contributing factor that the newspapers write more and more about the issue, but there’s a long way to the top. And the Norwegian top is probably not even close to the standard of bicycle cities around the world. We need some new and greater goals, and a kick in the ass!