Oslo’s City Council has agreed to implement so-called “datokjøring,” meaning that half of the city’s cars must not be driven on particular winter days during times of high air pollution.
The resolution will be implemented from next winter, and will designate which cars can drive on certain days based on whether their license plate ends in an odd or even number. On “odd days,” the even-numbered cars will not have permission to be driven in the city, and vice versa.
The resolution is a response to fears about increasing air pollution, which is exacerbated during very cold and windless winter days when pollution hangs over the capital longer. Asthma and respiratory illness sufferers are said to be severely affected by this, and car traffic has been pinpointed as the main cause of nitrogen dioxide, which represents the major air quality issue in Oslo. The City Council will change car lanes to public transport-only lanes during the affected days, and is looking into increasing the toll rates around Oslo for these days, although this requires a change in law.
The politicians’ vote presents a dilemma for the council leader who will have to implement the proposal, who is himself against the idea. Jøran Kallmyr of the Progress Party, who is responsible for Oslo’s environmental and transport policies, commented to NRK, “I am compelled to look closer at how we will do this. I register the decision from the council and must act according to this, even if I am personally against datokjøring.” He added that he is unsure how the scheme will work in practice.
The state road department must also agree to the proposal, and have said they must evaluate it first before agreeing.
Supporters of the scheme have highlighted the health benefits of the proposal. “Bad air quality can mean that sick people die several weeks before they otherwise would have,” said Per Schwarze of the Folkehelseinstituttet to NRK. But opponents are critical, with Kallmyr previously stating his fear that industry “will lose billions” if the proposal is introduced.
“Datokjøring” could be introduced in up to 12 Norwegian cities over air pollution fears, including Bergen, which is said to have a much worse problem than Oslo.
Views and News from Norway/Aled-Dilwyn Fisher
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