Cyclists and pedestrians have an innovative new way of getting around in Bergen, Norway: a purpose-built tunnel that’s off-limits to cars.
The 1.8-mile-long tunnel, called Fyllingsdalstunnelen, officially opened in Bergen last weekend, reports CNN’s Maureen O’Hare. It took four years and roughly $29 million to build, but it should ultimately shorten commute times and encourage more people to ditch their cars.
Connecting Bergen’s city center with a residential neighborhood called Fyllingsdalen, the tunnel features designated lanes for cyclists and walkers to help streamline the flow of traffic. From end to end, traversing the entire route takes approximately 10 minutes on a bike or about 40 minutes on foot. Crews have lined the walking lane with blue rubber flooring designed to make it a little easier on the body than bare asphalt.The straight tunnel has no windows—it runs through the base of Løvstakken mountain—but crews installed a variety of art installations, colorful murals and lighting design features to help beautify the space. A sundial indicates that travelers have reached the mid-way point, and conveniently shows the time.
For safety, the tunnel has security cameras and emergency phones throughout, per Euronews’ Angela Symons. And according to Jalopnik’s Ryan Erik King, the tunnel is also heated and equipped with rest stops.
The idea to build a pedestrian and cycling tunnel came about during the planning stages for a new light rail tram line in the same region. The project’s designers knew they had to build a parallel tunnel for emergency evacuations from the tram, but they cleverly realized the secondary tunnel could pull double duty.
Funding for the project came from Miljøløftet, per Euronews, which translates in English to “the environmental promise.” This government-run initiative aims to reduce residents’ reliance on vehicles by developing an “environmentally friendly, efficient and safe transport system,” per the project’s website, via Google Translate.
Løvstakken is one of the seven mountains that surround Bergen, which is the second-largest city in Norway. Situated on the Scandinavian nation’s southwestern coast, Bergen is also home to a UNESCO heritage site: the city’s historic wharf neighborhood, called Bryggen.
The Fyllingsdalstunnelen is likely the longest tunnel in the world built specifically for cycling and walking. The Snoqualmie Tunnel outside of Seattle, Washington, is slightly longer at 2.2 miles, though it wasn’t purpose-built. The Pacific Northwest tunnel was repurposed from an old train tunnel.