While 36% of Copenhagen commute by bike to and from work daily, only 8% of the first (2010) European Green Capital do so. One (drinking coffee and eating cinnamon rolls at council meetings) could discuss the enormous difference in the cities cycling modal shares for hours, years even, but according to a majority of Stockholm inhabitants it all boils down to three simple reasons: too few bicycle lanes, insufficient safety and the inability to take bikes on public transport.
We have fallen behind when it comes to modern urban construction. – Lars Stromgren, Ramboll
Cycling in Copenhagen
Nothing new under the snow if you ask me or any random cyclist but as Lars Stromgren, from the firm behind the survey, puts it “We have fallen behind when it comes to modern urban construction.” In other words, one cannot keep on saying “one billion Swedish kronor ($150,000,000) will be spent on cycling infrastructure over the next 5 years” and expect the figure to go from 8 to 50%. Politicians must take concrete initiatives, right now, and not only announce schemes that merely act as bandages. And if Stockholm fails to do so, we’ll reach Copenhagen’s cycling levels in 2078. Two thousand seventy eight.1
Meanwhile, a couple of Dagens Nyheter journalists packed a laser speed gun and took a short walk to Västerbron.2 Out of 130 vehicles checked with the speed meter only 10 of them respected the 50 kph speed limit (5 cars, 4 buses and 1 tractor). The fastest speed recorded that time was 113 kph. But the traffic administration already has a radical solution to the speeding problem: “Our proposal is that the limit is raised from the current 50 kph to 60 kph”.
Nature being what it is there was already a good chance I wouldn’t be around in 2078 to enjoy a bicycle friendly Stockholm. The odds just got worse.
Summer 2013 has been the best summer I’ve ever had in Stockholm since I moved up here in 2005 and it could partly explain why cycling is booming again, why bike paths have never been so overcrowded and why the City of Stockholm was too busy getting a nice tan to focus on improving the infrastructure or work, for instance, on the 14,000 additional bicycle parking spaces1 needed to accommodate today’s bicycle travel. At a rate of 500 new additions each year (that’s the plan), it will take 28 years to solve the current lack of parking spaces. That’s right. Twenty eight years.
Fortunately all talk and little action does not stop people from getting on bicycles and you know society’s mindset is changing and things are moving forward anyway when even companies begin to promote cycling, both as a sport and as a mean of transportation, to their employees.
Twice in less than a week bicycling related information were posted on my employer intranet among regular business material: 1. the company owns two bikes that anyone can borrow to run errands, 2. a cycling club is being formed following the growing interest in the activity.
Did you know we have two awesome bikes that anyone can borrow? Everyone who is at the Stockholm office who wants to borrow a bike may freely use them. // To borrow a bike please contact reception desk, they also have the keys. However, if you would need to borrow the bike on a certain day please send an email to our Office Coordinators.
To follow the success of our recent events such as Bellman Stafetten and Stockholm World Triathlon the Wellness group has decided to form a Cycling club. We are a lot of cyclist and to form a club gives everyone interested an opportunity to join planned training sessions and social events together. Suggested is to keep the club running all year around, winter biking can actually be a lot of fun! // Please respond via mail with Cyclist in the subject if you would like to join, MTB or Road doesn’t matter. // Welcome to join!
In these two cases there was an interest and an offer followed rather quickly after. That’s how things should be done in a fast-moving world and that’s how things are usually done in adaptive environments. If you have example of initiatives you or your company is taking to promote cycling I’d love to hear them; it helps me forget public authorities are not delivering. Do it yourself and enjoy the ride.