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.




are we going to have it better than the Danes?

Yesterday published the second episode of a series about what design elements make Copenhagen a bicycle-friendly city. This time the episode is about the green wave, a series of traffic lights coordinated to allow continuous bicycle traffic flow over several intersections in one main direction.

The Green Wave is coordinated traffic lights for cyclists. Ride 20 km/h and you won’t put a foot down on your journey into the city centre in the morning and home again in the afternoon –

The Green Wave, Copenhagen

If Copenhagen (with roughly the same population as Stockholm) can build such a beautiful infrastructure for cyclists, there should be no reason why Stockholm could not do the same. And why not do it even better? Sweden is superior to Denmark on so many things already 😉 So I asked the City of Stockholm through their Twitter account and actually got an answer.

Stockholm excels in many fields and can prove it with the Best cities ranking and report special document from the Economist Intelligence Unit! Impressive, isn’t it? Well, in the end, it’s just yet another report compiled by a guy using Google Earth and the likes (“I used Google Earth satellite imagery and the information available on Open Street Map to evaluate the public green spaces available in the city”, if that’s not expertise I don’t know what else is). One of those hundreds of reports published by so called experts. One of those hundred of reports that tells you what you want to hear as long as you pick the right one.

I’m still trying to figure out what that link had to do with the question though since the report does not back the following statement (“Several efforts aim to improve biking”) and, as a matter of fact, does not even contain the word “bicycle”.

So what are those efforts? What is the answer to my question? Are cyclists in Stockholm going to ever get a green wave? One better than the Danish? Come on Stockholm, please tell me you can do it, because I’m starting to lose faith.

3 great cycling books you should read this summer

Three books, three different topics but a common subject: bicycle cycling. If you are out of books for the coming days under the umbrella here are three titles you definitely should consider adding to your reading list.

It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels

It's All About The BikeRobert Penn’s “It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels” is a paean to the humble bike; it’s the story of why we ride, and why this simple machine holds the power to transport us all. Robert Penn has ridden a bike most days of his life. He rides to get to work, to bathe in air and sunshine, to stay sane and to feel free. This is the story of his love affair with cycling and the journey to build his dream bike; a freewheeling pilgrimage taking him from Californian mountain bike inventors to British artisan frame builders, and from perfect components to the path of true happiness. Read more…

A Bike Snob Abroad

A Bike Snob AbroadBike Snob is all grown up! After two books and thousands of miles under his tires, Bike Snob is back with a book that takes his family on the road – 2 year old son in tow – on an international cycling adventure into the wild and tweedy bike-share lanes of London, the Bakfiet equipped cycling utopia of Amsterdam and the back roads of Switzerland and Italy. But all roads lead home eventually, and the Snob takes a close look at the state of American cycling after a decade of advocacy, infrastructure development and backlash have frankensteined us into some semblance of a bike-friendly nation. But is it working? Read more…

Cycle Space

Cycle Space“Cycle Space” is the first book to view the city through the lens–or rearview mirror–of the bicycle. It features portraits of eight major cities and their respective cycling cultures: New York, Chicago, Portland, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Budapest, Sao Paolo, Singapore and Sydney. Each of these cities has seen a groundswell of cyclists taking to its streets in recent years. From death-defying bike messengers to hipsters with a taste for cycle chic to commuters simply riding to work, cycling is now being viewed as more than just an alternative: it’s practical; it’s cool; it’s green. Read more…

Grab a cold drink, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Already done with these three? Have a look at this longer list.

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.