It’s full of “riding-studded-tires-or-not-because-it’s-getting-colder” stories, “looking-like-an-idiot-in-a-high-visibility-vest-or-not-because-it’s-getting-darker” arguments on the cycling interweb at the moment and so I don’t have to check the calendar or look out the window to know winter is just around the corner. Even a troglodyte could tell that Freds have stashed their plastic toys away for the next couple of months. It’s November 5 and, like pretty much every year, it’s Autumn time in the northern hemisphere.
Studded tires or not? You can read as much as you want, online or elsewhere, the first step to making the right decision would be to get on your bike on the first cold snowy day and think about equipment later. Swapping tires on a bicycle is quick and rather cheap (if you compare to the hassle the whole operation is with cars) and you don’t want to be this equipment-first-pleasure-last person riding studded tires already in September when it’s still 25ºC at night. Just in case.
Then you really have three options. 1) the tires you currently have are good enough for the job, 2) you feel you need a bit more grip and knobby tires will do, 3) you’re mainly riding laps on an ice rink and studs are a must. I chose the second option three winters ago and bought a pair of Schwalbe CX Pro. They’ve done an excellent job so far and I’m just glad I don’t have to drag the extra kilogram and higher rolling resistance that come with studded tires. Feel free to hit the comments section and ask if you want me to elaborate on that choice.
But when it comes to wearing high visibility clothing I am very much against it. Don’t get me wrong, I buy the more-visible-is-safer argument. I really do. But I’m so annoyed cyclists and pedestrians let a few (in 2004, 23% of Stockholm commuted by car) dictate how and where it is safe or not safe to walk or ride a bicycle and don’t even question this absurd situation. I’m so annoyed people gave up and have come to accept they’re just moving targets, highly visible moving targets.
You don’t want your next customer to run you over, do you?
Prostitutes working on the street outside a town northern Spain have been ordered to wear reflective vests to make them visible to passing traffic and reduce the risk of accidents. Women touting for customers on a rural highway outside Els Alamus near Lleida in Catalonia have been told to don the yellow fluorescent bibs or pay fines of 40 euros (£36) under road traffic laws.1
We (cyclists and pedestrians) should not even have to consider wearing high visibility vests and all. We should just wear whatever we feel like wearing and know we’re not going to be run over by a neighbor or… the next customer.
Remember the 50 million Swedish kronor art pieces motorists will soon be able to enjoy while stuck in traffic on Norra länken? Well it looks like cyclists have not been forgotten and bicycle lanes are getting their share of fine arts too. Or is it art?
Stockholm’s population is among the fastest growing among European cities1 and the city is undergoing a major facelift to accommodate the crowd (or some of it at least): apartment buildings are popping up all over, roads are widen and resurfaced, … You would think the best way to transport those people with no or little change to the infrastructure would be to get them on bicycles as often and safely as possible but you would be wrong.
This is not a bicycle lane
Bicycle lanes have been used for lots of things lately – as temporary (we’re talking months here) bus stops, as parking space for trucks or just as some place to put signs up – and cycling through Stockholm has become quite painful and dangerous. Maybe I’m just narrow-minded and a safe and easy ride to and from work is too much to ask. Maybe I’m just not ready for all this art thing. What about you? Cycling in Stockholm? Enjoying the exhibition?
Here’s a short selection of bike lane art. Enjoy. The walking cyclist, Cycling around the North Pole , The wall ride, Bike the bikes & The cycling bus stop.
Not much bicycle riding in the last few days as I had to stay home with a sick child and the only cycling in the saddle activity I managed to squeeze in was a round trip to the Bicycle Film Festival Greatest Hits on Friday evening. Upon arrival at Arkitektur- och designcentrum I was greeted by an american man smoking a cigarette just outside the building. “Hi, what’s your name?” – “I’m Pierre.” – “Where are you from?” – “I’m from France.” – “Where in France?” – “I was born in Roubaix but…” – “Really? I’m working on a film about Paris-Roubaix. My name is Brendt Barbur by the way. Founder of the Bicycle Film Festival”.
We talked for a while and when Brendt asked me, the amateur cyclist born in Roubaix, whether I had watched a Sunday in Hell or not, I did not really know how to answer and after something like “euhhh…. yes… maybe… no” I had to admit to being a bad student coming to the festival rather unprepared.
I had seen some of the movies of the greatest hits already but some were new to me and the two hour program felt way shorter than it was. The evening ended with Lucas Brunelle’s Off The Grid but even though I know he’s a regular contributor to the Bicycle Film Festival (I respect that) and his movies quiet exciting to watch I still don’t see the point of glorifying reckless riding and, furthermore, still don’t understand the whole meditation and metaphysical bullshit the guy can come up with for a full 20 minutes.
I rode home through hipstermalm and somehow managed to stay on the bike despite all the drunks and taxis using the bike lane for everything but cycling and suddenly it’s Monday. I have the whole day for myself and decide it’s time to work on the fundamentals. I have to watch a Sunday in Hell or I can’t keep blogging about cycling and tell people I’m from Roubaix each time the Queen of the Classics pops up in a discussion. And so I did just that. I just enjoyed a Monday in Hell.
Not even a month into the new routine and I’m already behind schedule. I did spend Monday morning cycling around Stockholm though – looking for a front rack to my Kona Paddy Wagon – but, considering the fine weather, I could not ride back home to lock myself in and write another piece of crap. I had lunch on hipstermalm, decided the blog could just wait and enjoyed some sun instead.
There are a couple of places where that star don’t shine unfortunately. Road tunnels are a good example and Swedish taxpayers would be pleased – as I was when I first read about it obviously – to know that 50 million Swedish kronor (that’s 5.5 million euros or 7 million US dollars) has been spent to light up the underground part of Norra Länken. 50 million Swedish kronor spent on five kilometers (you do the maths for a cost per kilometer), 50 million Swedish kronor spent on 6 art pieces inside a bloody road tunnel.1
I won’t argue on how tax money is being used (I might have done just that already) but I have to question, however, the thinking behind that sort of installation. A driver’s attention is a limited, critical resource that is already compromised by lots of distractions: space shuttle like dashboard with touch screen and switches all over, kids having a blast (or not) in the back, texting, emailing, instagraming, facebooking, you name it. Should we really distract drivers even more with art along the road? Aren’t you suppose to stay focused and keep your mind on the road when behind the wheel. I naively thought so.
I’m having a hard time understanding how these 50 million Swedish kronor pieces of art fit in the Vision Zero road traffic safety project started in Sweden in 1997 but, at the same time, I’m also having a hard time understanding how building more roads help reducing traffic jam. It seems that the guys at the Swedish Transport Administration just know better (about 50 seconds in the video).
Norra Länken will open to traffic on November 30 and while art lovers should not really have time to appreciate the exhibition (remember, no more traffic jam) I’ll probably be cruising around Stockholm on a far from perfect bike paths network. Too bad there’s not much money and intention to fix that.
Edition 2014 of Bicycle Film Festival Stockholm will be presented at Arkitektur- and designcentrum on Skeppsholmen. Two days (October 3 & 4) full of bike movies, a bike exhibition by Black Label Bicycle Club Stockholm and a cruise through Stockholm city. After the last set of movies on Saturday Bicycle Film Festival will head to Bloms Café with gold sprint race and DJ marathon. Buy your ticket(s) already.
19:00 – Program 1
- BACK TO BATTENKILL, USA 2014 | 4 min. Dir. Josh Miller
- CLEAN SPIRIT, Netherlands 2014 | 88 min. Dirk Jan Roeleven
21:00 – Program 2, Bicycle Film Festival Greatest Hits
- MADE IN QUEENS, USA 2008 | Video 10min. Dir. Joe Stevens & Nicolas Randall
- SKI BOYS, Canada 2006 | Super 8 8min. Dir. Benny Zenga
- BIKELORDZ: STYLES ALIVE EDITION, Ghana 2012 | HD 10min. Dir. Mikey Hart
- BOY, England 2012 | Digital 10min. Dir. Justin Chadwick
- BELLE EPOCH, Italy, USA 2008 | Video 3min. Dir. Robert Chynoweth
- ON TIME, USA 1985 | 16mm 10min. Dir. Ari Taub
- THE BICYCLE, USA 2012 HD 7min. Dir. Adam Neustadter and Chris McCoy
- THE CYCLIST, USA 2013 HD 10min. Dir. Morgan Krantz
- SISTER SESSION, Estonia 2012 | HD 11min. Dir. Helen Habakuk, Doris Taaker, & Brett Astrid Vomma
- ROAD SAGE, USA 2013 HD 12min. Dir. Lucas Brunelle
18:30 – Program 3
- FIX THE ICELAND, Czech Republic 2014 | 11 min. Dir. Kryštof Hlůže
- LUCAS BRUNELLE GOES TO AFRICA, USA 2013 HD 7min. Dir. Lucas Brunelle
- EVOLUTION OF BICYCLE, Denmark 2013 | 1 min. Dir. Thallis Vestergaard
- TUESDAY NIGHT SPECIAL, USA 2014 | 16 min. Dir. Harry Zernike
- MELONS, TRUCKS & ANGRY DOGS, Germany 2014 | 56 min. Dir. Kristian & Martin Ansand & Gilluck
20:30 – Program 4, Urban Bike Shorts
- I’M ALRIGHT, USA 2014 HD 4min. Dir. John Lynn
- TRON KONG, Hong Kong 2014 | 2 min. Dir. Joshua Wong
- SPIN!, USA 2014 | 2 min. Dir. Harry Zernike
- MY RIDE, UK 2014 | 3 min. Dir. Jessie Ayles
- MY WONDERFUL BICYCLE, USA 2014 | HD 4min. Dir. Steve Olpin
- HAVANA BIKES, Spain 2014 | 5 min. Dir. Diego Vivanco
- WHIFFED OUT, USA 2013 | 12 min. Dir Jason Giampietro
- BIKE FOR BREAD, EGYPT, FRANCE, SWITZERLAND 2013 | 7 min. Dir. Claude MARTHALER and Raphael JOCHAUD
- DELIVERY, USA 2014 | 10 min. Dir. Christopher Walker, Joshua Simpson, Michael Beach Nichols
- THE COLDEST MARCH, UK 2014 | 17 min. Dir. Ben Pickett
- LUCAS BRUNELLE OFF THE GRID, PANAMA, COLOMBIA and USA | 20min. Dir. Benny Zenga
The Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) is an independent film festival that screens films related to urban cycling culture, in cities around the world. It was founded in 2001 and is based in New York. – Wikipedia
Bicycles do have negative environmental impacts, particularly those associated with their production and disposal. They are not quiet either and one can even buy compressed air horns blasting no less than 120 decibels if being louder than loud is the logic behind bike commuting. But I do believe a bicycle still qualifies better than a car to that trendy-greeny tagline – “it is non-polluting and quiet”. Whatever the car.
I’m sure bike commuters who were struggling to keep rolling in wind and rain this morning in Stockholm would be pleased to know that while bicycle infrastructure and the whole cycling as an alternative mode of transportation idea need massive improvements and support the so called “environmental campaigners” were busy helping the car – non-polluting and quiet – industry breaking Guinness World Records on the Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark yesterday.
We need to get people to pay attention to the electric car because it is non-polluting and quiet. Before summer there were just 400 registered electric cars […] That is way too few. – Jakob Hougaard, deputy chairman of the City of Copenhagen’s technical and environment committee.
Since when did the electric car become a non-polluting vehicle? Don’t you need to manufacture it anymore? Build and replace the batteries every now and then? Charge it? Does the electric engine make the sound of rolling (studded or not) tires disappear all of a sudden?
Although they are still awaiting an official count for their effort to create the world’s longest electric car parade, the event organisers say that they easily secured the Guinness World Record for the ‘most electric cars on a roof top parking lot’, the ‘largest spiral made with electric cars’ and the ‘most electric cars on a bridge between two countries’.
Guinness World Record for the ‘most electric cars on a roof top parking lot’, the ‘largest spiral made with electric cars’ and the ‘most electric cars on a bridge between two countries’? ‘F’ word me, that was definitely worth campaigning for! I’ll try to think about that next time I’m riding – non-polluting and quiet – on a tiny bicycle path squeezed between two lanes of speeding motorized traffic. It will definitely cheer me up.
Updated. Meanwhile in Norway: Booming Electric Car Sales Have Become A Problem. No comment.
Second week as a semi-professional bicycle blogger and the motivation is obviously still quite high. This Monday was packed with bicycle cycling starting with a Tour de Saltsjöbaden (43 kilometers) on the semi-plastic bike followed by a couple of kilometers on the single speed to meet a friend for lunch and then a gentle digestive ride back home.
Not being Swedish and riding a bicycle the day after the general elections was not the safest thing to do according to all that drama I was reading online for breakfast (Sweden Democrats – far-right, right-wing populist & anti-immigration – became Sweden’s third largest political party and right-wing-car-centric politics are still doing strong) but I decided to hit the road anyway. And you know what happened? I was able to stay in the saddle all the way: no one tried to put me on a Paris-bound charter flight neither was I ran over by a campaigner from the Moderate Party in a SUV with tinted windows.
I must admit that the best riding on le Tour de Saltsjöbaden (which, for me, starts from Årstafältet) is around Solsidan where voters (as the chart shows) massively support the motorized-traffic-loving party. I had the road for myself most of the time and stopped a couple of times by the shore to take pictures or enjoy the view. It’s sort of surprising but actually makes perfect sense: people living around Solsidan don’t drive in Solsidan. But they drive to Stockholm – like most of those living in the richer neighbourhoods – and the closer you get to the city center, traffic just worsens, support to the Green Party increases and riding becomes quite unpleasant.
Nothing new under the sun though and life in Stockholm has not dramatically changed overnight. Cycling in and around the city center is still not world-class quality and I bet it will remain so for the next four years. There are some hidden gems not far from the busy roads and you’ll find them if you get on your bike. You could even find a restaurant serving lamb loin and enjoy a beer with lunch. I know I did.
I’ve been wanting to (among other things) spend more time riding my bicycles for a while and I just got the chance to do so. Until I decide otherwise I am now off on Mondays and today marks the beginning of a new routine: I will walk my daughter to school at 9:00 and will pick her up at 15:00 but I yet have to work on self-discipline and figure out how to make the best of these six hours each week.
So here I am, drinking espresso and writing about yesterday’s Sthlm Bike, the world’s most beautiful bicycle race, no less.
Sthlm Bike is a 42 kilometer non-timed race and even though one could go flat-out through the streets of Stockholm and be served breakfast first at the finish area it would just be the most stupid thing to do. Starting at 7:00 from Gärdet the route was mostly on paved roads but included a couple of gravel roads through greener areas. I’d say that I know my way around Stockholm quite well on two wheels and I was very pleased to cycle parts of the city I just never had the occasion or reason to visit.
As always the Capital of Scandinavia did not disappoint and cruising around an almost car-free Stockholm in the early hours of Sunday morning was pure pleasure (can’t help but wish that day will come when cars will be banned from the city center).
The highlight of the ride though was, in my opinion, the coffee and cookies booth at kilometer 17. With the race starting at 7:00 participants were expected to meet at the starting line at 6:30 so I, and a lot of other riders, left home quite early that morning with little or no time for a proper cup of fuel. Being reasonably fit and used to cycling I did not need the kilometer 26 banana but it was great for those less accustomed to riding 40+ kilometers. Anyway. That coffee was golden.
Our vision is to be able to offer a car-free Stockholm to 25,000 cyclists on a Sunday morning in September – http://sthlmbike.se/about
While this ambitious number has not yet been reached the race organisation and the volunteers who helped cyclists along the course did make clear they were up to the task. Great weather. Great route. Great race. Looking forward to September 6, 2015.
On September 17, the City of Stockholm and Naturskyddsföreningen (the most influential non-profit environmental organization in Sweden) will give goodie bags to cyclists around Stockholm as a thank you for riding a bicycle (“tack för att du cyklar”).
In order to get one of the 150,000 bags you will have to ride by one the following 17 check points:
- Alvik (Alviksplan)
- Liljeholmsbron (east side)
- Ekelundsbron (Solna)
- Götgatan (by Katarina bangata) – bike service available
- Hammarbyfärjan (Södermalm)
- Roslagstull (north side) – bike service available
- Stadshuset – bike service available
- Lidingöbron (Ropsten side)
- Sankt Eriksplan
- Raoul Wallenbergs torg
- Älvsjö station (by the bicyle pump)
- Kista – bike service available
Will you commute by bike on September 17 and ride by one of the check points to get a bag? What do you think the goodies will be this time?
It had been way too long since I last rode the heaviest piece of my velocipede collection and I really had to head back to woodland.
Wednesday 9am, I put a bunch of knives, matches and a jerrycan full of fuel on the kitchen floor to make sure my one year old girl has something to play with while I’m gone and then I’m off to meet a friend who, being his own boss, can also go for a “Tour de Hellasgården” in the middle of the week if he feels like it (and he does in a different bike each time: Kona Process 153 the other day, Kona Hei Hei Deluxe this time).
Our “Tour de Hellasgården” goes on the rather technical green track around the lake and must end with a cup of coffee at the restaurant followed by a swim in Källtorpssjön.
A couple of kilometers and a cup of coffee later
Crappy pictures and Instagram filters are also part of this Grand Tour and I’m quite sure people usually don’t have a full suspension mountain bike for towel and jersey rack. See.
Coilair towel and jersey rack from Kona
Travel guides say Stockholm is one third asphalt, one third green areas and one third water and we sure stayed away from the first 33.33333333333%. Big bikes, slow riders, pines and water temperature at 25°C are all it takes to make Wednesday feel like Saturday… or Sunday.