Stockholm is the new Amsterdam

In the latest science fiction novel by Arthur D. Little (The Future of Urban Mobility 2.0, Imperatives to shape extended mobility ecosystems of tomorrow1), Stockholm stands out for having one of the best-developed networks of cycle paths. Stockholm ranks second out of 84 worldwide, first out of 19 in Western Europe and beats Copenhagen & Amsterdam. No more, no less.

Stockholm: 57.4 points, 2 out of 84 worldwide, 1 out of 19 in Western Europe. The Swedish capital stands out for having one of the best- developed networks of cycle paths: its bike lane network is the third most dense in the world, with 4,041km of lanes per 1,000 sq km. It has a high rate of public sector initiatives, and its multi-modal SL-Access smart card has a penetration of 0.64 cards per capita. As a result of this forward-thinking approach, it ranks above average for transport-related emissions, with one of the lowest concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and particulates (NO2 and PM10) in the air in the world. What’s more, its traffic-related death rate is amongst the lowest in the survey.

The novel is a great read for anyone who likes fantasy fiction and Arthur D. Little is definitively a brilliant writer. One could almost believe the City of Stockholm made it to the first place just because it has the highest cycle path network density but I’m sure there is more to it and I can’t wait for the sequel The Future of Urban Mobility 3.0! Until then I can only speculate on other possible reasons The Capital of Scandinavia rules (almost) the world.

To outperform the competition Stockholm must have a secret weapon that others don’t. And I believe it to be the “felanmälan” (fault report). Simple as that: a powerful tool that solves all problems effortlessly. Imagine that.

Ice? Write a felanmälan and it's gone.

You’re riding (or trying to keep both wheels on the ground) and notice there’s way too much ice on the cycle path. You take a picture and send it to the City of Stockholm. Answer: “if you aren’t satisfied with the situation, please report this to us”. You do so using the extensive fault report system and problem solved: you said there was ice!

Bus on the cycle path? Write a felanmälan and it's gone.

Now let’s say you’re riding (or trying to stay alive on a narrow cycle path next to speeding motorists) and you notice a bus parked on what is supposed to be your safety zone. You take a picture and send it to the City of Stockholm. Answer: “if you aren’t satisfied with the situation, please report this to us”. You do so using the extensive fault report system and problem solved: this bus is gone and replaced by another one.

Stockholm might have the highest cycle path network density but it’s not enough to make the city rank first in Western Europe. I’m sure Arthur D. Little must have some nice surprises waiting for us in the next chapter: could the “felanmälan” be one? What do you think? Have you got your own theory?

On a different note, a month ago I ordered a Stockholm City Bikes access card (the one that is supposed to be delivered within 3 days according to the computer screen) and I still haven’t received it. I know the bicycle sharing system only runs from April to October (did Arthur D. Little know that?) so I guess the card has still plenty of time to reach the mailbox. Otherwise, “if I’m not satisfied with the situation…”. I know, I know.


  1. http://www.uitp.org/sites/default/files/members/140124%20Arthur%20D.%20Little%20%26%20UITP_Future%20of%20Urban%20Mobility%202%200_Full%20study.pdf 

Cyclist reveals filthy face masks after commuting in London (uncensored)

Last Friday I quoted an article published in The London Evening Standard1 as an introduction to a post on air quality in Stockholm and the crap that we, pedestrians and cyclists, breathe in pretty much all the time (I know motorists don’t breathe in cleaner air either but, hey, it’s mostly them that are making it toxic to start with).

“Cyclist reveals filthy face masks after commuting in London” describes a pretty scary reality already but it seems it does not exactly tell what John Lenehan (the cyclist) had in mind when he spoke to the journalist over the phone. He since has reached out to the newspaper and some of the article has been updated but he is still not happy with it and, therefore, reached out to the Great North

Hello. I spoke on the phone with a reporter, who then wrote the original article. I read the original article after it had been published. I wasn’t happy with it and so I produced the “corrected” article, which I then emailed to the reporter. It seems as of now that the only change made was that my name was corrected. I don’t know if they plan to run the full corrected article or not. So that’s my story. You can proceed however you choose. – John Lenehan

I’ve tried to reproduce John’s story as he sent it to me and added some extra weight on words and sentences that were changed or are completely missing in The London Evening Standard’s version. As always don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments section!

From Stockholm, with polluted love.


A general point – this is not a cycling-specific problem. It’s a problem that affects everybody. It’s not another “cyclist versus the world” argument.

Cyclist reveals filthy face masks after commuting in London

A cyclist is calling on the government to improve air quality after his face mask filters were left covered in filth after a week of commuting.

John Lenehan, an engineer, purchased the mask after suffering from a cough and irritable throat as he cycled to his office in Old Street, east London.
He wore the mask for three days as he made his way from Enfield to his workplace, cycling for about 60 miles in total, in April.

But when Mr Lenehan looked at filters inside the masks, designed to trap harmful particulates, he was shocked to find them completely blackened by pollution.
The results left Mr Lenehan so concerned for his health he decided to stop cycling to work and commute by train instead.

Anti-pollution mask, air filters, London
The photograph shows a filter after around 4 hours of cycling on the right. The middle filter is after approximately 3 hours underground.

He continued to wear the mask for the journey, which included underground travel for the final 10 minutes, and was horrified to find the mask filters were similarly blackened from underground travel.

Mr Lenehan, who is also a triathlete, has since moved house, living outside of London. This has completely changed his commute to include no underground travel, and no travel by bus or bike on busy roads, because of health concerns.

The 30-year-old said: “When I was cycling to work I would be coughing and have a sore throat all the time. The damage I was doing to myself was beyond belief. The cumulative effects of this toxic pollution over a lifetime do not bear thinking about.

“It is not just cycling-specific problem, it is something that affects everybody – people travelling all over London, people living and working in London, children, adults, elderly people. As an example, Oxford Street, one of London’s showcase streets, regularly fails air quality tests. It’s no wonder, with so many buses and taxis.

“You can’t actually see the air pollution and know how bad it is, and I think that people need to know the extent of the problem and the diseases it can cause.”

“London’s air is lethally toxic. I think there are many contributing factors: buses and taxis would be major polluters. Poor traffic flow, congestion, and the stop-start road network is also a problem. The air underground is also appalling.”

Mr Lenehan, alongside other air pollution campaigners, is calling on the Mayor of London to take radical and urgent action to address the problem. Cleaner technologies are available and must be embraced, particularly for buses, taxis and lorries. Congestion must be reduced.

Mr Lenehan also suggests that the public should be made more aware of the extent of the air pollution problem in London. So bad is London’s air pollution that it is in fact illegal, and last year the Supreme Court ruled that the Government is failing in its legal duty to protect Londoners from the harmful effects of air pollution.

Keep scrolling down… Matthew Pencharz, senior environment and energy adviser to the Mayor, said:

The Mayor is leading the most ambitious and comprehensive package of measures in the world to improve London’s air quality, an urgent challenge which affects the health and well-being of all Londoners.

At the heart of his plans is the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London from 2020. Already, progress is being made. Unlike many cities, we have met EU rules on particulate matter. The number of Londoners living in areas above nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits has halved since 2008.


Note on the last two paragraphs

These paragraphs are quite disappointing, because in my opinion, not enough is being done to tackle the problem. The idea of my “campaign” (for want of a better word) is to try to show people how bad the air is, and to highlight the fact that the problem is not being taken seriously enough by the authorities, and not enough action is being taken. What action there is just isn’t urgent enough. The technology and the ability to change is there, but the willingness and urgency doesn’t seem to be.

Some statistics like this should be included

The legal limit for UK average annual nitrogen dioxide levels is 40 micrograms per metre cubed. In 2013, at 62 (62!) monitoring stations across London, this limit was exceeded. In many cases, it wasn’t just exceeded, it was grossly exceeded. In Wandsworth (a residential area with many young families – remember that children are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution), levels have reached FOUR times the legal limit. On Oxford Street (visited by thousands of shoppers per day, not to mention thousands more retail workers), levels are regularly more than THREE times the legal limit. PM10 and PM2.5 levels regularly exceed legal limits.


  1. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/cyclist-reveals-filthy-face-masks-after-commuting-in-london-9901951.html 

cyclist reveals filthy air filter after sitting on his couch drinking coffee in Stockholm

I was not sure how to begin a post on air quality in Stockholm and since Black (Smoke) Friday was a week ago I could not use that for an introduction either. But then I read this.

Cyclist reveals filthy face masks after commuting in London

A cyclist is calling on the government to improve air quality after his face mask filters were left covered in filth after a week of commuting.
John Lenehan, an engineer, purchased the mask after suffering from a cough and irritable throat as he cycled to his office in Old Street, east London.
He wore the mask for three days as he made his way from Enfield to his workplace, cycling for about 60 miles in total, in April.
But when Mr Lenehan looked at filters inside the masks, designed to trap harmful particulates, he was shocked to find them completely blackened by pollution.1

Anti-pollution mask, air filters, London
Air pollution: a mask before travelling (left), mask from cycling (one week, centre) and mask from travelling on the train (one week, right)

Cycling advocacy groups campaign for wearing helmets and high visibility clothing while riding but never or rarely talk about the crap we breathe along the way. Every day I read about yellow vests and how they’re supposed to make cyclists more visible during Stockholm dark winters (given that the other person is looking in the right direction obviously) but I haven’t read a single article on air quality in central Stockholm lately that did not end with that one old plan: “we really should start looking into starting to think about banning studded tyres in the city center… next year… or the year after.”

Air quality in Stockholm is not as bad as in London one might say (it was in the news sometime ago on some website somewhere) but air quality in Stockholm is far from perfect either.

Cyclist reveals filthy air filter after sitting on his couch drinking coffee in Stockholm

Now, ladies and gentlemen, please let me show you the anti-pollution filter that sits between the couch I drink coffee on and the wild world outside.

Anti-pollution filter, Stockholm
According to the manufacturer’s recommendation that filter should be replaced once a year but not only did I not think it would turn black that quick, I did not even know there was a filter I needed to check once in a while.

Long story short, this one was last replaced sometime between 2008 and 2012 and is already black as coal. I’m getting a new one as soon as possible and the air quality around the couch will definitely improve but what about when I’m out walking, riding or just having a drink on the balcony?

Last time I checked lungs, bronchioles and windpipes could not be ordered from the Internet like spare parts for ventilation systems can and there’s a good chance they were not made to filter as much crap as they nowadays should. There are 17 different classes of air filters available on the market but only one for lungs. One that, unlike helmets and high visibility vests, doesn’t get much media exposure and is seldom brought to the public’s attention by all the new cycling experts in town.

At the end of the day it’s up to everyone to decide which piece of “safety” equipment should be acquired first but I know I’d buy and wear an anti-pollution mask before any sort of neon yellow jacket. So what about you? Do or would you wear an anti-pollution mask when cycling? Do you think the City of Stockholm and Naturskyddsföreningen should give some away in their “Thank you for cycling” goody bags next Spring?


  1. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/cyclist-reveals-filthy-face-masks-after-commuting-in-london-9901951.html 

that time of year… when yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

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.

Homemade studded tires

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.

Spanish prostitutes ordered to wear reflective vests
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.


  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/8086050/Spanish-prostitutes-ordered-to-wear-reflective-vests-for-their-own-safety.html 

this is not a bicycle lane

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
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.


  1. http://www.thelocal.se/20130423/47494 

a Monday in Hell

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.

a Monday in Hell

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.

throwing money out the (car) window

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.

Throwing money out the (car) window

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.


  1. http://www.svt.se/nyheter/regionalt/abc/infor-oppning-av-norra-lanken 

Bicycle Film Festival

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.

http://vimeo.com/105931469

October 3

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

October 4

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

it is non-polluting and quiet

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?

Sorry, we're fucked

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.

Tour de Saltsjöbaden

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.

Tour de Saltsjöbaden

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.

Solsidan, election results, 2014

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.

Sthlm Bike, the world’s most beautiful bicycle race

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, 2013

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).

Sthlm Bike, 2014

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.