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READER INSIGHTS

‘Need more bike lanes’: What it’s like to cycle in Norway

Cycling is an environmentally friendly way to get around and keep fit. But, what's it like to get in the saddle in Norway? Here's what The Local's readers had to say. 

Pictured is a bike rested by the fjord in Norway.
This is what The Local's readers think about getting around Norway on a bike. Pictured is a bike rested by the fjord in Norway. Photo by Matej Drha on Unsplash

When many think of a Scandinavian city, they can’t help but think of a clean, modern environment where everyone gets around on bikes in all weather. 

This reputation is primarily due to Norway’s neighbour, Denmark. So what’s it like getting around on Norwegian roads on a bike? Is it a complete nightmare, or can it go toe-to-toe with the cyclist’s haven of Copenhagen? 

According to The Local’s readers, it stacks up pretty well. In a recent survey, we ran, 75 percent of those who responded said that Norway was a safe country to cycle in. 

Our results contrast with a recent survey reported in the newspaper Aftenposten, where less than a third said they thought that Oslo was a safe city to cycle. 

In addition to thinking it was safe, our readers also said that they believed Norway was a good country for cyclists in general, with more than three-quarters of those who got in touch saying they thought it was a great country to bike in. 

“I cycle to work every day across Oslo and go out for longer tours at the weekend. Drivers are usually pretty considerate. The only real issue I’ve noticed is that people really don’t use their indicators much here. Compared to cycling in London though it’s wonderful here, the cycle lane infrastructure is fantastic,” Simon, who has lived in Oslo for five years, said. 

Another Oslo resident said that the capital was good but still didn’t quite match up to Denmark yet.

“Oslo, where I live now, is becoming a lot better. I have lived in the UK, which was similar, France where I did not bike, and Denmark, which was great,” Anne Kristine, who has lived in Oslo for 12 years, but hails from Trondheim, said.

Pat, who lives in West Yorkshire but spent a month in Norway on a cycling holiday, praised Norway’s drivers. 

“The Norwegian drivers are incredibly polite and respectful of cyclists,” Pat said.

READ ALSO: What do foreigners think of the Norwegian healthcare system?

However, not everyone was impressed with the drivers. 

“Frequent overtaking on blind bends on country roads (is an issue),” Anthony, who lives in Rogaland, wrote. 

Similarly, in a recent survey of cyclists in Norway by Trygg Trafikk and Tryg Forsikring, one of the most common issues reported was drivers not paying enough attention. 

The biggest complaint about cycling in Norway among The Local’s readers was the lack of cycle paths. 

“There are not enough bikeway paths in Norway. It can become dangerous for the cyclists, especially with fast drivers going over the speed limit and also large lastebiler (freight trucks),” Joanie, who lives in Buskerud, but is originally from California, said. 

One reader from Berlin also had an issue with the lack of dedicated cycle lanes in Norway. 

“Not enough dedicated cycling lanes. Especially dangerous on roads shared with a tram,” the reader, who didn’t leave their name, said when asked about their experience of cycling in Norway. 

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NORWEGIAN CITIZENSHIP

REVEALED: Do higher language requirements make Norwegian citizenship less appealing?

Norway will raise the language requirements for citizenship in October. Foreign residents in the country have told The Local whether the new rules will put them off applying in the future. 

REVEALED: Do higher language requirements make Norwegian citizenship less appealing?

The language requirements for Norwegian citizenship will become stricter from October 1st. The required level will be raised from A2 to B1, in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

For those that register their application and submit it via the online application portal before September 24th but are unable to hand in their documents to the police before October 1st, the UDI will count their application as handed in before the new rules take effect- meaning they are required to pass the language test at A2. 

READ MORE: How long does it take to meet Norway’s new language requirements for citizenship? 

So, how have those hoping to become a Norwegian citizen in the future taken the news, and do they think the new rule is fair? 

Shortly after the change was announced, The Local ran a survey among readers and subscribers to find out whether they thought the new requirements would put them off applying. The results of the survey delivered a clear “no”. 

Just under 75 percent of readers said that the higher requirements would not put them off applying, while 26.7 percent said that the new rules would deter them from attempting to become a Norwegian citizen in the future. 

Additionally, only one-fifth said that language requirements for citizenship were a bad thing. 

When using social media as a bellwether, you should always exercise caution. Still, even there, most comments and replies to articles announcing the change were reasonably positive towards the change. 

One common thing readers undeterred by the language requirements shared in common is that they felt knowing the language to a certain degree should be expected of a citizen. 

“Knowing the language goes hand in hand with living in a foreign country and certainly with becoming a citizen. If citizenship is important to you, the language must be as well. B1 level is achievable and a reasonable level to expect a citizen to have,” Even, who originally hails from the USA but lives in Vestland County, told The Local. 

Similarly, many felt the requirement for B1 isn’t too demanding, either because by the time they are eligible for citizenship, they should be comfortable at that level or because they feel that the country gives a lot in return. 

“By the time I’ve spent enough time here to apply, the language requirement will not be an issue,” Peter, who has lived in Norway for a year, said. 

Meanwhile, Lester from South Africa wrote: “Norway gives me so much but asks so little in return. A few hundred hours of language training is well worth living in one of the best countries in the world.” 

Others also wrote that B1 was a reasonably attainable level if you put in a couple of hours a week to reach the language requirements.  

However, not everyone felt the same. A common frustration among those who think that the Norwegian language requirements would hamper their chances of becoming a Norwegian citizen was that they thought the new requirements moved the goalposts. 

A reader from Brazil said that the process led them to decide to leave Norway for good.

“This process (applying for citizenship) became so frustrating for me. It was hard for me to pass Norwegian A2 level. Then when everything was ready for me to apply for citizenship, they changed the (residence) rule from 7 to 8 years and now (new) language (requirements). I got totally discouraged and now decided that I will move out of Norway as well,” the reader wrote. 

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