Snippet: Biking in Sweden

Biking in Sweden

Biking in Sweden from melissa mac on Vimeo.

I finally managed to upload videos I took with my camera (not a video camera, hence the crappy quality) while I was in Europe. Here you can see a bike path near the Swedish Agricultural University in Uppsala. This was a great path: isolated from cars, winding through gorgeous fields of grasses and canola. At night it looked positively spooky, as the lights only lit the path and it seemed like you were biking on the edge of some dark abyss.

I think it’s obvious that the US lags in bicycling and even bicycle advocates here seem to miss the point sometimes. Painting some lines on a road and calling it a bike path might attract some of the intrepid risk-taking set of young people that populate NYC, but it’s not going to attract mothers taking small children to preschool or grandpas carrying home groceries. Everyone biked in Sweden and the reason why everyone biked was that the Swedish bike paths made biking fun, rather than scary and death-defying as it is here.

First of all, they were separate from the roads for automobiles, which have the unfortunate tendency to weight 100 times more than bikes. Second, they were often far away from those roads and in nice places, so not only were you not crushed by cars, you were biking through a peaceful forest and didn’t have to hear them.

It was nice to get that sort of exercise without toiling in some dreary gym. Needless to say, Swedish people are not as umm…round as their American counterparts and while some of that can be credited to better food, I think biking plays a big role .

It would require a major infrastructural overhaul to have this kind of system in the US, which I dare to hope for, but in order to get to this point I think we have to stop taking it for granted that cars are king and start taking bikes seriously.

As a post script, it’s also easier to get a cheap practical bike in Sweden. It seems like all the bikes around here are racing or mountain bikes, but when a bike is a vehicle not for sports, but for shopping and getting around, those bikes are unnecessary and impractical. A simple one speed one gear road bike with ample basket space is what you need…and those can be hard to find in the US:

Biking to the Håga Valley from melissa mac on Vimeo.

Biking in Sweden II from melissa mac on Vimeo.


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