See Inside the World’s Longest Purpose-Built Cycling Tunnel

The 1.8-mile-long tunnel in Norway is part of a broader effort to encourage residents to ditch their cars

Mural on wall inside dimly lit tunnel
Colorful murals help brighten up the windowless tunnel. Iver Daaland Åse / Bybanen Utbygging

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.

Crews in neon green safety gear installing blue rubber inside tunnel
The designated walking lane is covered with blue rubber to make it more comfortable for pedestrians. Arild Tveit / Bybanen Utbygging
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.
Rainbow art installation inside a dark tunnel
The sundial installation in the middle of the tunnel Iver Daaland Åse / Bybanen Utbygging

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.

Stone benches in front of colorful mural
Crews used stones excavated from the mountain to create resting benches. Iver Daaland Åse / Bybanen Utbygging

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.

Dimly lit tunnel
Cyclists ride on the left, while pedestrians walk on the right blue lane. Iver Daaland Åse / Bybanen Utbygging

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.

Exterior view of underground tunnel
An exterior entrance to the tunnel Ronny Turøy / Bybanen Utbygging

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.

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