I found this video on Facebook. A great way to prove just how stupid rules can sometimes be and how the people enforcing them can be even stupider!
So there I was having a coffee this morning when my two week old daughter sent me a link (she knows the topics I’m interested in so she reads the news first and only forward some of it to me) to a news article1 in which cyclists are once again depicted as urban criminals.
They probably would have remained unnoticed and dismissed if it was for robbing jewellery stores at gun point or setting cars alight to then throw stones at firefighters but the situation on the streets with bicycling cyclists has gone crazy for real and Swedish police has to intervene on a weekly basis!
Swedish police set about clocking the speed of cyclists in central Stockholm this week, but as every single biker was over the speed limit the officers only managed to apprehend and fine 15 of them […] The street has a low speed limit of 7 kilometres an hour for bikes, but the officer said that every single cyclist whose speed they measured had been going faster than that – posing the problem of apprehending them in time before they scooted off.2
Yes, you read it right: cyclists in Stockholm ride faster than 7 kilometres an hour and that is NOT okay! Götgatsbackan might be wide enough to accommodate a bike lane and a pedestrian zone but while the City of Stockholm gathers the courage required to paint a one hundred meter white line cyclists will just have to make sure they ride slow and keep clear from fashion-shopping-café-latte-drinking pedestrians (if she was a bit older I guess my girl would already be done with the job but – at her age – she is as good at holding a brush than the city employees).
And so until the lane is drawn the only solution 2013-Stockholm can come up with is giving tickets to speeding cyclists: 7 kilometres an hour is probably as slow as you can get on a bike before you fall but it’s a speeding situation here in Stockholm. And – sadly enough – it seems to please pedestrians who fear for their life at rush hour because they can’t be bothered with looking left and right before crossing the road, too busy talking on the phone, drinking coffee or struggling with all those bags from H&M.
What people seem to forget is that cyclists riding 10 kilometres an hour are definitely causing fewer few lesser less damage to street life and pedestrians’ health than all those cars still going with studded tires (yes, studded tires in August) a hundred meters from Götgatsbackan.
Ladies and gentlemen, studded tires have be banned from Hornsgatan for several months but drivers are still charging the air you breath with particles that will give you lung cancer! Has anyone of you called the police because you’re scared of that? I’m not so sure and I haven’t read about it at least since newspapers are not helping either and have been pretty busy fuelling the street war going on between pedestrians and cyclists.
I just got to tell Swedish police, the City of Stockholm, newspapers and regular citizens who want their streets back, safe and fun: it’s time to wake up and focus on the real problems! Let the social street life be, people will learn and live together. Just get rid of the real crap already.
I’ll leave you to that because I need to feed the girl so she gets stronger quickly and can start working on that bicycle path. I’m pretty sure a similar story will hit the news soon but until I’m back just remember: ride slow and try not to hit a pedestrian in your fall.
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”.
“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.
JUST FOLLOW THESE RULES
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.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the first episode of a series of controls targeting cyclists who ride through red light. The controls are still going on around Stockholm and it’s for the best: cyclists are a real threat to pedestrians and car drivers and must be treated like the criminals they all are!
Handcuffs look good on casually dressed bike commuters.
Of course there are a few sloppy motorists too but the situation on the roads is not as critical as the anarchy it’s on the bike paths. A police check in the city once in a while should be enough to remind drivers of the rules and make sure they stay safe in their rolling coffins. An operation like the one carried out in the evening of Thursday, April 26th and which definitely proves cyclists are the real threat… oh wait…
Between 23:00 and 06:00, Stockholm Police carried out an operation on “The Central Bridge” (Centralbron) & in “South Way Tunnel” (Söderledstunneln). Around 90 cars were stopped. Fines amounted to 50,000 SEK.
- highest speed was 125 kph (instead of 50 kph)
- 12 driving licenses were confiscated as a result of speeding and drink-driving
- 15 drivers were caught driving without a license, 6 showed fakes
- 1 driver commited environmental crime with “illegal waste transport” (whatever that means)
- 2 people were taken to the police station on suspicion of drug-impaired driving
- 1 person was arrested for illegal weapon possession and drink-driving
- 2 people were reported for breaching knife law
- 1 person was taken into custody for being in Sweden illegally
This is the result of just one single police check carried out on a regular weekday. I don’t know about you but as far as I’m concerned I have a pretty good idea who the real threat to Stockholmers is.
The report is available (in Swedish) here – http://www.polisen.se/Stockholms_lan/…/Flera-fast-for-rattfylleri-fortkorning-och-olovlig-korning/
Stockholm riders can expect more police controls at traffic lights during spring – Peter Ågren, Södermalm police.
Last Tuesday Stockholm’s police began with a series of controls targeting cyclists at the intersection Götgatan – Hornsgatan. According to an article published today on mitt i (in Swedish) 17 cyclists rode through red light and were fined 1500 SEK ($230) that morning.
While I totally agree with police making sure cyclists follow traffic laws for their own safety and the safety of pedestrians (I don’t think the safety of drivers is at risk here) I also wonder if police attention is in sync with all the political communication, programs and concrete plans for a more livable, greener & cleaner Stockholm (projects for better public transit, bigger and safer bicycle network are making headlines pretty much every week).
In 2010 Stockholm was given the first European Green Capital Award but it does not mean things are perfect and we can all sit back and relax. One of the issues central Stockholm is facing (in winter mainly) is poor air quality with higher levels of PM10 particles than in Los Angeles: studded tyres blamed for poor Stockholm air. In response to these high levels of particles the city of Stockholm introduced a ban on the use of studded tires on Hornsgatan, the very same street I mention at the beginning of this post.
And here is the thing. As I was riding on Hornsgatan the other day I decided to stop for a minute and listen. I don’t remember the exact number (I would gladly stop for another count if I need to show proof) but I know for sure I could hear the obvious sound of studs against asphalt for more than 50% of all cars that passed by during that minute (and trust me we’re closer to 75% than 50%). I ride that street twice a day all year round (not on weekends I have to admit) and I have never ever seen a police control targeting motorists who still use studded tires.
Yes it is a good thing that cyclists follow the rules and police should send strong signals to unsafe riders but what’s the point in keeping cyclists from dying in a crash now if they’re going to die from lung cancer later? Is this an evidence of short instead of long term thinking? Of targeting the minority (cyclists) over the majority (motorists) because it’s just easier?
I found that picture in the newspaper last Friday but unfortunately could not find the online version on DN.se.
Tommy Åberg was riding his bike on Blekingegatan (south of Stockholm) when he came to a police car parked on the bike lane. He thought something wrong was going on (like a robbery) at first and decided to have a quick look around. But the emergency seems to have been of a completely different nature: the law enforcers needed a little sugar kick and were just buying some candies.