Friday, September 7, 2012

Promoting cycling

In my opinion, cycling for short to medium journeys is the key to a more balanced life-style in Western countries. I have seen it in Sweden, when I lived in Lund (South Sweden). 

I have not looked enough at statistics to make this post a reliable source for exact figures. However, from my own eyes, I have seen many people in Sweden using their bikes as a mode of transport. No surprise there! 

Practical bicycle seen by the coast in South Sweden

Indeed, I saw guys wearing their suit happily cycling to their office, elderly people using their 2 wheel mode of transport to do their daily food shopping and heavily pregnant ladies enjoying the freedom of carrying on doing sport in a moderate fashion. 

Bicycle park outside of Danish Bank building in Copenhagen

There are accidents, for sure (my neighbour broke his back in winter as he cycled on an icy patch; I saw an elderly person falling off her bike...luckily it happened close to the hospital)..., but worse things can happen when you drive.

Your bicycle can also be your business premises as seen in Berlin

From reading on a bit on the internet about the benefits of cycling, I wonder why people are not instantly convinced it's the thing to do to ensure you are: 

Healthier - It seems to reduce risks of heart disease, breast cancer, name a few. 

Safer - some experts think that if the amount of cycling doubles, the risks per cyclist falls by about at least 30% (source)

Wealthier - using a bicycle regularly is less costly than using a car. More cash in your wallet at the end of the month!

Less Pollution - by using less your car, you consequently use less petrol / diesel and pollute less the environment. 

Studious bike park in Cambridge, England

So when I lived in Sweden, we managed to survive with 1 car, as we used the bicycle to go to work and the car for week-end trips or large shopping duties.

It's important to highlight that the infrastructure for cyclists is very present in northern Europe, as each public park, place, building, name it... have bike parks. Making shopping a healthy activity. The bike lane map play an important role too in the decision making process of how you'll get to your destination. 

A few options to choose from besides the car - in Sweden close to Gothenburg

Another factor that you will want to consider is the number of hills or descents you are likely to encounter on your journey from A to B. The latter is the obvious reason why cycling seems so popular in northern Europe, as the geographical low-relief allows you to gently cycle without having the impression you have just embarked on the Tour de France!

Keen cyclist in the old part of Copenhagen

After my recent move back to France, the lack of infrastructure for cyclists surprised me. Large cities have included cycling in their transport systems (city bike hiring and dropping stations, bike hooks on trains...). 

My wish is for small communities to embrace cycling as a normal mode of transport and for Cycling (with a big C) to be at the forefront of the decision making process of the local politicians that make changes in their villages and towns. I know it takes time to change mentality and I hope to be part of this long process, as I really see the value of using your old or more recent bicycle on a regular basis. 

Safe cyclist using a helmet, in Copenhagen! Unfortunately, a rare sight

If you have experiences or opinions on the would good to hear them. Happy riding!


  1. We both cycle a lot and we try to cover at least 30 to 50kms a minimum of 3 times a week. As for a helmet, neither of us would go around the block without one. I have smashed two, and if I had not had one on with the first of these falls I would not be typing this today :-)
    Have good weekend Diane

  2. i live in a small town and have to drive into the city, so i just joined their shared bike program. now i can park free on the edge of the city and ride in. the cost of bike rental for a year is equal to parking my car for two days. when winter comes though, i'll probably switch to the bus. ;)

  3. Je n'ai jamais testé le vélo en Suède, mais l'endroit qui m'a le plus impressionée et Amsterdam ou les vélos sont rois. Très agrébale de se promener en vélo en pleine ville et de croiser très peu de voitures.

  4. J'aimerais beaucoup pouvoir me rendre au travail en vélo et l'utiliser davantage mais dans ma ville et en Suisse en général, il y a beaucoup de pentes.... Tes photos me rappellent Amsterdam et ses immenses parkings remplis uniquement de petites reines :-)

  5. Thank you all for commentating and for sharing your experiences. I realise that in certain areas, it is not possible to use the bike to go to work due to hills and harsh descents. I also notice that more and more efforts are made by communities and governments to promote cycling. I am happy about it and I also know that there's plenty more to do.

    Merci à tous !


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