Cycling in the city is not really my thing. Well, having spent most of my adult life so far in a megacity of 12 million people and poorly planned roads with little space for pedestrians much less for cyclist, riding a bike is not something that you would do even if the sun is out and the sky is blue – especially if the sun is out and the sky is blue. You’d probably add dehydration to the list of hazards that you will expose yourself when you ride a bike to anywhere on the streets of Manila.
So I only had the courage to bike on country roads. The last time I used a bike on a semi-regular basis was five years ago while working as a rural physician on an island in Southern Philippines. Back then the only obstacles I had to face were rough roads and the occasional crab passing through. See following figure of said crab.
But cycling in Stockholm is different – especially when the sun is out and the sky is blue. You see I have recently acquired a bike from a generous Filipino family here. I could have had it a year ago but my fears of being run over, getting lost, and looking like a total loser got the better of me. So I postponed it for a year.
This time I’m glad I finally got the bike and for my first trip cycled from Hammarby Sjöstad to Lappis. Google Maps says it was more 10 km and it probably took me twice the amount of time as an average cyclist would had I been faster and had a better sense of direction.
Cycling in pretty city like Stockholm even on a slightly rainy day is not as bad as I had thought. Granted I got lost and feared for my life but when I think back I realise that the city is good for cycling. I had tried cycling with a group of friends in the Haarlem almost a year ago and I think I was more fearful then than I was cycling alone in Stockholm. Maybe it goes back to the fact that the streets in Stockholm isn’t as crowded as in Manila and the cycling lanes here isn’t as filled with cyclist as in the Netherlands. Add the sloping terrain, the pretty views of the sea and the lakes and the forests and cycling in Stockholm can be an invigorating activity specially now that spring-summer is here and the days are longer.
If you haven’t done cycling in the city before I urge you try it out while you’re here in Stockholm. If you’re not looking to buy your own bike you can use the city bikes and get a pass here: http://www.citybikes.se/home and have a go at it. The season pass is reasonably priced and it might be a good first step towards a more eco-friendly city commuting.
However, if want to reduce waste and want to have your own bike you might want to check out http://irecycle.se/en/, they sell used bikes of all sizes and prices.
Lastly, if you already have a bike that needs to repaired come to Cykeldagen at KI on 11 May to have it serviced for free! Plus they also have interesting talks about the benefits of cycling.