the times they are a-changin

Stockholm will probably not become a much less car-centric city overnight but talks and decisions begin to point in that direction and keep hope alive.

During summer 2012 Stockholm’s first indoor bicycle parking facility (capacity of 350 parking spaces) opened next to the train station in Älvsjö. Another one (capacity of 200 parking spaces) should be ready when the Odenplan station (along the Stockholm City Line1) opens in 2017 and now a third garage (capacity of 700 parking spaces) is planned next to Södra station (Stockholm South)2.

That’s good news for a lot of commuters and I just find it unfortunate that Dagens Nyheter chose to fuel the bikes versus cars debate and focus, right in the title, on the fact that the facility will not be opened for cars. Should a garage always be built with room for cars? No. How many cars can you park instead of 700 bicycles anyway? Not many. So why write such a thing?

The Bicycle Snake, Copenhagen
The Bicycle Snake, Copenhagen

Like it or not growing cities around the world can’t and won’t develop with private cars as the inevitable mode of transport in mind.

Stockholm, more than ever, has to concentrate on walking and cycling infrastructure and build a better mass transit system even if that means taking public space back from off-street and on-street parking facilities. There are around 36,000 on-street parking spots in central Stockholm (28,000 twenty years ago) and 1,500 are soon going to disappear to make room for the first of four planned dedicated bus lanes3. There’s no reason one should be stuck in traffic when using public transportation. Is there?

These two measures were in the news yesterday. They are likely to be followed by others. They’re going to piss off a few people and be labeled as green propaganda among other things. But hey. The times they are a-changin. Always.


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_City_Line 

  2. http://www.dn.se/sthlm/garage-mitt-i-stockholm-forbjuder-bilar/ 

  3. http://www.mitti.se/bussfilerna-kan-sluka-1-500-p-platser/ 

hey dj, where’s the bike?

A long time ago in a Norrviken far, far away someone started building some new bike parking. It was desperately needed because the existing cycle stands at Norrviken station are jammed full every day. I was really happy because not only was there going to be more parking but it was going to be on the same side of the station to my house so I wouldn’t have to walk as far after dropping off the bike (those extra 50 metres were a killer). While I would like to cycle all the way to  work more often, I don’t have time as I have to pick up my son from day care pretty early and the train is faster. Luckily he’s learning to ride now so at least I can cycle to the station in the morning and then from the station to day care in the afternoons.

A hole was dug out quite quickly, some foundations were built and, in no time at all, some supporting legs and a roof were up. Then everything ground to a halt. No actual bike stand was put in. Over a year passed and no progress was made but then, out of the blue, work began on a second bike stand beside the first uncompleted one. I thought it was pretty weird but decided to wait and see what happened.

It was worth it. Just a few days later the following sight greeted me on my way to the train…

New bike shed

Naturally I started parking my bike in the new bike stands.

Then came the dreaded storm weather warnings (am I the only who thinks that was totally blown out of proportion?). I was worried about the trains not running so I scrounged a lift home from a friend and totally forgot that my poor bike was waiting for me.

The next morning I walked up to the station and past the bike parking. I was almost past before I realised my bike wasn’t there. I looked around in case the workmen had been forced to move it somewhere but no, it was gone. Stolen. Vanished. It was an ex-bike.

I was pretty pissed off at whoever stole it. It’s not like they took it accidentally. Or that it was an emergency so they stole it then brought it back later. Learn the difference between yours and mine please! However, I realised there was an opportunity here as well. I have insurance so I could get a new bike. I phoned up my insurers and was told that, due to the age of the bike, it wasn’t worth that much but, even though I had no receipt or any kind of proof that I’d ever bought the bike, they’d give me 50% of the estimated value.

All that remained was for me to buy a new mountain bike. I had a pretty limited budget (max 8000SEK for everything) but I started looking and quickly realised it wasn’t going to be an easy task. The decent bikes all seemed to be a few thousand above my budget but I soldiered on. Then my friend and fellow Fourteen Islands writer Pierre suggested I get a hybrid bike instead. I was fairly skeptical. “Those skinny tyres will never hold up to me smashing up and down kerbs”, I thought, “and there’ll be no grip out in the forests.” (not that I’m in any way a serious off-roader but everyone likes a cycle through the woods occasionally). I’d pretty much dismissed the idea until I went to the first shop who had not even one mountain bike within my range. I talked over the issues concerning hybrids with the guy in the shop and he was able to calm my nerves so I looked at a Kona DR Dew that Pierre had recommended. I liked what I saw but had only looked in one shop so wanted more choice. I also have a bit of a problem with Cykolteket but that’s another story.

Moving on to Sportson I talked to a really helpful guy who encouraged me strongly to go for a hybrid. They had two on offer that he recommended, a Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc or a Scott Speedster X40. Both were the exact same price (6995 SEK) and had pretty much the same specs but which to choose. In the end it came down to a few small details. I hated the huge platform pedals on the Specialized but the guy swapped them for my choice of pedal for free. I preferred the colour of the Specialized and didn’t like the hand-grips on the Scott. And I’ve always wanted a Specialized. It might be daft but for some reason it’s always felt like I could never afford a Specialized bike and here was my chance so I grabbed it. And here she is, my new baby…

Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disc

So far I’m very happy with it. It’s a comfortable ride, it’s pretty fast (especially compared to my old mountain bike) and it’s just so pretty. I’ll let you know how I get on with it after I’ve had more time on it.

Now let’s just hope the thieves let me hold onto this one!