Slippery streets and sidewalks grip Oslo

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Pedestrians and motorists alike have had to deal with “extreme” conditions in and around Oslo this week, after alternating periods of snow and rain turned sidewalks and streets into slick ice rinks. Emergency rooms are busy tending to fractures caused by falls on the ice, while insurance companies are flooded with collision claims.

Oslo city streets, like here in the Vika district, have been covered with ice and snow, made dangerously slippery when rain freezes on top of it all. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Oslo city streets, like here in the Vika district, have been covered with ice and snow, made dangerously slippery when rain freezes on top of it all. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

“All our available crews have been out to strew gravel on the ice,” Odd Bratteberg, spokesman for the city agency in charge of clearing the streets and sidewalks, told newspaper Aftenposten. “But these are extreme conditions.”

The problem, he said, is that gravel, sand and salt has been strewn repeatedly “but because of the rain and melting ice that freezes on the gravel, a new layer of ice forms on top.” The situation wasn’t expected to improve much in the days ahead, after state meteorologists predicted an ongoing period of wide temperature swings, with both snow and rain.

The city crews can’t keep up with the demand and Bratteberg said conditions were worst in residential neighborhoods. Conditions are especially slippery and dangerous when the ice is covered by water.

Dr Knut Melhuus at Oslo’s emergency clinic Legevakten said he and his crew have been treating injuries for as many as 50 people a day who have fallen on the ice. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that insurance firms have seen a 20 percent jump in claims after motorists have crashed with each other or slid into stationary objects on local streets and highways.

Police actually have advised motorists to leave their cars at home because of extremely slick roads all over Østfold County and the Oslo metropolitan area. Health care officials also advised the elderly to stay home because of the dangerous sidewalks.

People of all ages have fallen, though, and many have started using brodder, which consist of rubber and spikes that can be attached to shoes and boots. Brodder have long been considered unfashionable but sales have been brisk, also to young people and some claim brodder have actually become trendy. “At least I could walk as quickly and confidently as always,” wrote VG columnist Anders Giæver this week. He discreetly removed them, though, when reaching sidewalks that were clear of ice.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund