One basic rule for Stockholm cyclists

Cyclists constantly complain about how drivers don’t give them space and endanger us while we are out on our bikes in town. It’s not a war that’s going to be won any time soon but here’s one rule that we can all start to follow today that will let us win a battle or at least take the moral high ground.

This is called a red light.

This is called a red light. It means “Stop!” Not “Stop if you feel like it” or “Stop if there are cars coming the other way” or “Stop if it’s a Tuesday” or anything else. Just “Stop!”


in figures, September 2013

Bicycle commuting is the use of a bicycle to travel from home to a place of work or study — in contrast to the use of a bicycle for sport, recreation or touring. – Wikipedia

On the slippery slope to shaved legs & spandex wear?
On my way to work

  • Time – 14:48’07
  • Distance – 330.98 km
  • Average speed – 22.3 km/h
  • Maximum speed – 49.4 km/h
  • Calorie consumption – 5563 kcal
  • Carbon offset (CO2) – 49.64 kg
  • Operating cost: 0 SEK

You can find the 14 islands bicycle commuting squad on Strava. Feel free to join the club and help us ass polishing some leather. With love.

Gran Fondo Stockholm

As a member of Fredrikshof Cycle Club, I recently received a mail from the club chairman. In it I was informed that the club will be a major partner in a new road race in and around Stockholm next year. Gran Fondo Stockholm (GFS) is a 150km race from Friends Arena, through Stockholm and then out towards Arlanda airport before looping back to the finish line inside the arena.

Gran Fondo Stockholm

Since I’m training for Vätternrundan 2014 (VR), I figured that a 150km race just a few weeks beforehand would be perfect. Then I saw the entry fee. 1195 SEK! Quite a lot of  money in my book but still, it’s a great chance to get some miles under my belt so why not.

A little while later I checked my Facebook news feed and ran straight into an avalanche of outraged Fredrikshof members. Why is the club boycotting  VR due to price but supporting an equally expensive new race? Why are we dropping Roslagsvåren (135 km) to partner with a much more expensive race? Why is the race in Stockholm so much more expensive than other Gran Fondos? Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Why are Fredrikshof not supporting VR next year?

Well the club haven’t abandoned it completely but are going to have a considerably smaller presence and it’s not due to the total price. In fact, it is in protest to VR’s raised fees for club registrations. If a club wants to register a team and get first dibs on the best starting time then there is an additional fee of 400SEK per person bringing the total cost to somewhere around 1800SEK per person. To put it another way VR costs 6SEK per kilometre whereas GFS costs 8SEK per kilometre so it’s more expensive. So if the argument was only about money then fine, I can buy that argument. But it’s not. It’s about all, or at least many, cycle clubs around Sweden taking a stand against what they see as an unfair price rise when they bring so many riders to VR every year.

Why are we dropping Roslagsvåren to partner with a much more expensive race?

I’ve never done Roslagsvåren so I can’t comment from personal experience but from what I’ve read the race is outgrowing itself. There is a lack of parking and a serious lack of volunteer marshals willing to give up their time to make sure the race goes of in a safe and organised way.

Why is the race in Stockholm so much more expensive than other Gran Fondos?

I’ve seen a lot of numbers being thrown around and yes, it does seem like it’s more expensive than similar rides in New York and the Alps but not by much. If that was the end of the story then fine but we don’t live in NYC or the Alps. So to take part in any of the “cheaper” races I’d need to buy a plane ticket, almost certainly pay a fortune to ship my bike and then find a place to live etc. For GFS I’ll pay my entry fee then either cycle or get a lift to and from the arena. End of story. So yes, the entry itself is more expensive but the total cost is much, much less for anyone living in the area. It is still expensive but nobody is forcing anyone to enter. If it’s too expensive for you, don’t take part.

En Svensk Klassiker So, will I take part or not? Well it’s all going to come down to money. Since I’m starting the Svenskklassiker next year I have to pay for entry to VR, Vansbrosimning, Lidingöloppet and Vasaloppet. If, after paying for all that, I still have enough to pay for GFS then I will. If I don’t then I won’t.

thank you for cycling, autumn 2013 – tack för att du cyklar

Back in May Stockholm ran the “tack för att du cyklar” (thank you for cycling) day. As a thank you for cycling, improving the environment and reducing traffic congestion in central Stockholm, each person who passed a designated station between certain times was given a hi-vis vest so they can be easily seen, a map of cycle tracks in Stockholm and a leaflet with some helpful safety tips such as “wear a helmet, it’ll protect your head.” I hadn’t started cycling then but I heard that many people thought it had been a great success. Unfortunately those people do not seem to have been cyclists.

What the organisers had failed to realise was that the people who are cycling at these times are mostly not casual cyclists. They are aware that they need to be seen and not hurt, they know their route and they certainly know that a helmet will protect their heads. In short, the “thank you” wasn’t really much use to many people.

On the 25th of September it was time for another thank you. This time I was one of the people who passed through Norrtull between 0700 and 0830. I was excited to get into work and look in my goodie bag to see what I’d got and if the organisers had listened to those who thought that May’s attempt had fallen a bit flat.

The answer? Apparently not…

Thank you for cycling, autumn 2013

I know that at least one person in my office cycled in that day just to get her goodie bag and that’s great. But one day isn’t going to solve things. A better idea would be to solve the underlying issues. Sort out the bumpy and difficult to ride on cycle paths, make it easier to cross Norrtull without standing still at the lights for 10 minutes (yes, I do actually stop for lights), stop having bike lanes that just suddenly vanish without trace or warning. Maybe then more people will feel encouraged to take up cycling to work on a more permanent basis.

cycling Sälen style

Sälen is best known as a skiing area but a few years ago they realised that they need something to keep the region going once the snow disappears. They’ve spent a not so small fortune on making the area attractive to cyclists during the summer months. There are downhill runs and mile after mile of mapped road routes for those of us on skinny wheels. There are also information signs with maps, descriptions of the various types of runs, safety information and links to more info on the web…

Sälen, cycle

Now this has all been done in just a couple of years so how come Stockholm thinks it is going to take so long to do anything? OK, it’s a big town but the people here seem to think it’s comparable to London and New York. It’s just not. Stop making excuses and start actually doing something. If you don’t know how, go and ask them in Sälen.