in figures, October 2013… or not

The plan was to keep track of my relationship with the commuter over a 12 month period but I’m afraid it won’t happen. I’m sure my 3 month old baby girl has something to do with it as she likes to go to the stables at night and play with the bike computer but I obviously will never be able to prove that she pressed the reset button (if you really want to know, on October 31st, the screen said 115 kilometres which is pretty much what I rode in the last 4 days of that month).

So no figures for October 2013 but a (new) picture of me riding to work instead. Beautiful autumn in Stockholm and, as you can see, snow is late this year.

Cycling on ice

But let’s change subject to what made my day miserable yesterday: I commuted by public transit. Due to circumstances beyond my control I have been commuting to Kista the last two days (which for someone living in the southern parts of Stockholm is close to the worst punishment ever) and, to make things even worse, commuter trains traffic was cancelled after a freight train derailed right before Stockholms södra yesterday morning.1

One could argue this was bad luck and – hopefully – does not happen often but it still shows how fragile Stockholm’s rail infrastructure still is in 2013: one train derails and thousands of commuters are affected. Only two tracks (one way) support all traffic at this particular location and even a minor glitch has enormous consequences. But the issue is being addressed and the Capital of Scandinavia will spend one billion Swedish kronor on the cycling infrastructure over the next two hundred years. Oh wait… Does the railway network also need maintenance and improvements now?

The rest of the journey was business as usual with a traffic stop on the subway red line, a quick switch to the green line in Slussen and a I-am-glad-I-am-in-good-shape-and-can-walk switch to the blue line at Stockholm’s central station. Kista, here I am, one hour later.

I’ll spare you the details of the never ending commute back home via the brand new tramway line because… I just want to forget about it and pretend I did not just waste another hour of my life.

Commuting by bike to Kista

Anyway, I was not going to endure the SL pain two days in a row and so, today, I rode my bicycle instead: 20 kilometers in 50 minutes (one way). Now tell me: what was I thinking yesterday when I chose public transit over the fastest means of transportation in any (relatively) big city around the world? But like October’s mileage, I guess I’ll never know.


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.

in figures, August 2013

Not much riding this month since I was on parental leave with my girls. Still, here are the unimposing figures from August, 2013.

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

  • Time – 5:42’52
  • Distance – 129.14 km
  • Average speed – 22.6 km/h
  • Maximum speed – 51.5 km/h
  • Calorie consumption – 2422 kcal
  • Carbon offset (CO2) – 19.36 kg
  • Operating cost: 40 SEK (flat tire)

in figures, July 2013

Bicycle commuting business as usual last month (no vacation) and with my eyes on the bicycle computer screen and my fingers on the laptop keyboard I’m now typing the figures from July, 2013. Wireless. Pretty advanced stuff.

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

  • Time – 18:51’09
  • Distance – 417.04 km
  • Average speed – 22.1 km/h
  • Maximum speed – 45.8 km/h
  • Calorie consumption – 6964 kcal
  • Carbon offset (CO2) – 62.55 kg
  • Operating cost: 0 SEK

steal me!

More than 1,700 bicycle thefts1 were reported in June (that’s a 31% increase compare to the same month last year) and if you were expecting the local police to start chasing the assholes behind that you’d better buy a stronger lock already: “Unfortunately bicycle thefts is not something we prioritise” which can be translated to “we’re too busy street-racing2 in our powerful-paid-with-tax-money-cars and don’t have much time for real police work”.

Police involved in street racing
“bicycle thefts is not something we prioritise”

Instead the City of Stockholm is adding 15,000 bicycle racks3 to the 10,000 already existing to provide cyclists with more spots to securely park their bikes and hope it’ll solve the problem. 25,000 racks, that’s what cyclists will have to share by 2018. That’s 3 racks for 100 Stockholmers or 3 racks for 10 bikes (if only bike commuters used the racks). I guess I will just have to keep on locking the bike to street lights and the likes for the next century or so.

Not all stolen bikes are reported to the police though and two in particular never will. Thanks to Pappas the police won’t have to pretend to work on two black and yellow free to use bicycles which Pappas left in the streets of Stockholm to advertise his mobile bicycle service business (also on Facebook).

For 250 SEK (+ 350 SEK for the drive) Pappas comes to you and fixes a flat tire, does adjust gears for 200 SEK and changes a tire for 300 SEK but if you don’t have your own bike and are going to ride one of Pappas’, no need to call him, just follow the rules.

Steal Me!
Never lock this bike, it is a public free bicycle
Always leave it in public so it can be stolen again
Ride it with care, the next person needs it as much as you do
Share the bike, it will help you find new friends
This bicycle is made for people in Stockholm to get from point A to B in a faster and more enjoyable way

Two free to use bicycles are good but I believe Pappas should ask the State for some tax money and extend the fleet. I’d personally rather know my income tax goes into public bicycles than into servicing police cars used in street races. Meanwhile, it’s racing and press releasing as usual and if your bike disappears, well, suck it up.




it’s time to celebrate! isn’t it?

It made it to the news and I suppose I should be celebrating with my fellow bike commuters: in May, almost a million cyclists rode by the 6 counting stations located in central Stockholm1.

But I’m not going to. The City of Stockholm seems to be content with the 3% increase compared to May last year but is the cycling modal share really up? It’s not good enough to just look at one figure and get all excited. A truly serious study would look at other parameters such as weather conditions which, at this latitude, have a huge impact on bicycle usage.

I’m on the saddle pretty much every day all year round and I am pretty sure May 2013 was dryer, warmer & sunnier than May 2012. Can’t that alone explain part if not all of the increase? I’m sure it can and if I were a politician I’d say – just by throwing the weather parameter in the equation – we’re actually seeing a decreasing growth.

But that’s not what annoys me the most in the article. What does annoy me the most is the repetition of the amount of money that is being put into the cycling infrastructure: on billion Swedish Kronor. It does seem like a lot and it is actually a lot of money but once again a number means anything and nothing at the same time if it’s out of context.

The one billion Swedish Kronor is the budget for improving and developing the cycling infrastructure over 7 years and that means roughly 150 million a year (I’m generously adding 8 million a year here to prove I’m not just bitching around). Let’s say – to the cycling community disadvantage – May 2013 was an anomaly and the average number of cyclists is closer to 500,000 a month over a year. That’s 6 million cyclists and a budget of 25 Swedish Kronor per cyclist and per year ($3.75).

At the same time we are shamelessly upgrading, for 16 billion Swedish Kronor, a 5 kilometre long portion of a motorway to solve traffic problems in the region and to gain a better environment in the inner city2. Yes we do things differently up here: more and bigger roads solve traffic problems (unlike everywhere else Sweden is immune to the induced demand phenomenon3) AND we do build roads that make the environment better. 16 billion Swedish Kronor. That’s the budget for one single road project and if every single Swede (babies included) owned a car it would represent 1,685 Swedish Kronor per human being ($252). For 5 kilometre of asphalt (and a box around it, a concrete coffin if you will).

Put like that one million cyclists in the city in May and one billion Swedish Kronor don’t look that impressive anymore and that’s what I’d like to read in the newspaper more often. I’d like journalists to do their homework, try out basic mathematical operations (multiplication and division are a good starting point) instead of just throwing figures at readers along with a picture like if they could only post embellished PR from politicians.

Now I have an idea and I’ll give it for free to the City of Stockholm. You know what bike commuters would really appreciate in the next thank you for cycling bag?

Cyclists love lube

It’s within budget and it’ll help them accepting they’re being treated like second-class commuters. Just make sure you buy the natural kind because you know it’ll help gain a better environment. I am so definitely not celebrating.




in figures, June 2013

Sometime in May I went through the boxes full of bicycle parts, screws and other bike related things I keep in the stables and dug up an 8-function wireless bicycle computer!

I did not plan to have (buy) anything electronic on the commuter bike but since I had a computer already I could just as well give it a try – not to mention that the first function of that computer is a clock! and that’s pretty cool: until now I always had the feeling I was going to be late for the daily morning meeting but now I AM SURE about that.

The wireless part doesn’t seem to work well along train tracks though (no communication at all between the sensor and the base on Årstabron for instance) but it doesn’t really matter. Or does it? Should I upgrade to a GPS/cadence meter/coffeemaker all-in-one device like those guys who take bike commuting as seriously as if they were riding a god damn stage on Tour de France? Do I look like I’m taking the first step on the slippery and dangerous slope to shaved legs and spandex clothing?

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

I so hope not and, all in all, it was a slow month with a bunch of days off and not that much riding.

  • Time – 13:45’05
  • Distance – 299.38 km
  • Average speed – 21.7 km/h
  • Maximum speed – 48.4 km/h
  • Calorie consumption – 4780 kcal
  • Carbon offset (CO2) – 44.9 kg
  • Operating cost: 0 SEK

The calorie consumption data is only the accumulated value that is calculated from the speed data of every second. It differs from the actual consumed calorie: 10 km/h – 67.3 kcal per hour, 20 km/h – 244.5 kcal per hour & 30 km/h – 641.6 kcal per hour.

The Carbon offset are calculated as follows: trip distance (km) x 0.15 = Carbon offset (kg). This factor of 0.15 is determined by applying the average value of the overall gasoline-powered passenger cars in 2008 to the equation of the “Carbon offset from 1 km drive of a gasoline-powered car” described on the website of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Tourism.