Norway's Bergen is gearing up to open the world’s longest purpose-built pedestrian and bicycle tunnel.
On 15 April 2023, the 2.9km tunnel will open to the public with running and cycling events. It takes around 10 minutes to cycle through and 30 to 45 minutes to walk through.
Known as the Fyllingsdalstunnelen, the tunnel cuts through the Løvstakken mountain in the southwest Norwegian city, linking the residential areas of Fyllingsdalen and Mindemyren. Cyclists can continue on to the centre of Bergen using existing routes.
Both the Fyllingsdal tunnel and the rest of the cycle route to Bergen city centre are financed through the municipality’s state-supported Miljøløftet (Environmental Promise).
Its goal is to make it easier for more people to choose cycling and walking over driving. Not only could this help reduce traffic in the city, it could also help cut planet-heating emissions and unhealthy pollution.
The route’s total distance - from Fyllingsdalen to Festplassen in the city centre - is 7.8 kilometres, which takes around 25 minutes by bike. Currently, cycling between these areas takes around 40 minutes.
Will the tunnel really be the longest in the world?
Bergen’s cycle tunnel has been touted as the world’s longest - but it comes with some caveats.
The Snoqualmie Tunnel near Seattle, USA, is 3.6km long. However, it takes over an abandoned railway tunnel, so was not built for purpose.
The Fyllingsdal cycle tunnel is therefore the world’s second longest overall, and the longest that was built for purpose.
Running parallel to the new light rail line that opened in November, the tunnel doubles as an escape route for train passengers.
"Basically, it is an escape tunnel for the tram. But then there were wise minds who said that it is possible to cycle through this tunnel as well," explains project manager Arild Tveit. "By creating a walkway here, it is also possible to exercise... So it is public health in every metre of this tunnel."
Supported by government investment, dedicated pedestrian and cycle lanes - 2.5 and 3.5 metres wide respectively - were included in its design.
What hours will the Fyllingsdal tunnel be open?
The tunnel will be open from 5.30am to 11.30pm daily. It features well-lit rest stops and security cameras throughout. Emergency phones are available every 250 metres.
Colourful dynamic lighting will create a wave of light when a cyclist or pedestrian enters the tunnel at either end, alerting cyclists to oncoming traffic. It is also lined with artwork and installations to make the journey more interesting.
It will be kept at a constant temperature of 7 degrees Celsius, making it an attractive training route for runners on colder days.
The opening ceremony on 15 April will be marked with a tunnel race on Saturday followed by a bicycle parade on Sunday.
Watch the video above to see inside Bergen's new tunnel.