Beate Sletvold Øistad - My Pelago Capri

Q&A with one of Oslos many cyclists.

Text: Mari Oshaug
Photos: Mari Oshaug

• What is your relationship with biking?
I’m above average found of bikes and biking. I’ve biked since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until five-six years ago that I really discovered the beauty of biking. I traded my mountain bike with groceries hanging from the handlebar, with a comfortable city bike with screens and side bags. Since then I have also joined the road bicycle racing and the trail-riding club. In addition I find tandem bicycling so much fun. I bike every day, all year around. If I’m going somewhere in the city it would take a lot for me to not bike. I bike to and from work daily, summing up to a total of 23 km along the fjord on the so-called Tour de Finans. This is a splendid route and by far Oslo’s best cycling route.

• What are your thoughts on Oslo as a bicycle city?
The arrangements for cyclists in Oslo are incomplete, inconsistent and conducted on the car’s premises. In Oslo the so-called main cycle paths are laid along the tram rails, in pedestrian only-streets and ends suddenly at intersections. This leads to the choice of taking the bike one only special interested takes. For people with a normal appetite for risks, the choice to bike is simply too uncertain. Riding a bicycle in Oslo is like riding uphill, both in terms of topography and facilitation.

Despite this, biking is definitely the best and the most efficient way of getting around the city, all year around. To be able to whiz past kilometers of stagnant congestion in the cycle lane feels amazing every time.

Fortunately things are about to happen in Oslo, at least on a consciousness level. So, let’s hope that the money and well functioning solutions are on their way (adding a few meters of red asphalt is not enough). The politicians are concerned with Oslo as a bicycle city and even have their own bicycle project, so I choose to be an optimist!

• What are your best tips for improving Oslo as a bicycle city?
To build designated bicycle lanes, separated from cars and pedestrians. The so-called combined pedestrian and bicycle lanes are dangerous.

Dare to fight fire. When the Smestad-tunnel got closed off to traffic and the el-cars evicted from the public transpiration field people changed their transport habits overnight. The city planers need to dare think about a cityscape without cars in favor to cyclists and pedestrians, and not just half way (as is the case of for example Torggata).

Make intersections safer for bikers: Introduce the Copenhagen-model, where crossings are made in a 90 degree angle instead of having to lie to the left and risk being hit by cars going straight forward from behind.

Build a connected bicycle road network. And a general tip: remove the VAT on bikes, including the el-bikes!