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Gas prices? Who cares? Get a bike.

May 23, 2009

P1000508

Just a few days ago someone asked me how much money I was spending on transportation in Sweden. I couldn’t believe I had never wrote about how efficient and fantastic the cycling system is here. The only way I get around Lund is by bicycle. I cycle to where I need to go whether there is sunshine, rain, or snow. In the beginning I was a little hesitant about hopping on my bike because I hadn’t rode one since since I was 12 or something. After a few days, I had mentally adapted to traveling without a car. You can’t carry as many things and you don’t have protection against the elements. Physically, my body was aching the first few weeks. I was not used to biking for an hour everyday day back in Atlanta. I arrived to class sweating and completely out of breath. Four months later… it is a normal part of life for me in Sweden.

Lund is a great town to bike in for three reasons:

1) Its small size; it takes 30 minutes tops to get wherever you need to go.

2) The streets are designed to suit cyclists’ needs. In 1998, the City of Lund invested approximately 80 million Swedish Kronor (10 million US Dollars) to improve the conditions of the streets for cyclists. Now there are more bike paths, higher standards for bike paths, improved lighting, safer bike crossing areas, and better parking facilities for bikes. An example of a “bike parking lot” in Lund is pictured above. The ultimate goal is to replace cars with bikes to reduce environmental pollution.

3) Lund is a safe town to bike in. Cars are extremely aware of the cyclists around them. I never feel threatened when biking along side a car. They always stop if a you need to cross and on narrow streets they allow you to pass before driving through.

Back to finances >> Cycling is not only a generally enjoyable experience and a source of exercise; it is also completely free and man-powered! I think I payed around $60 for my bike. It is old and rusy, but it has never broken in four months. So in essence, I have spent $60 on transportation in 4 months. Some days if it is snowing too much or if I don’t feel well I opt for taking the bus, so maximum I have spent $100. I should clarify that I really love cars. I love the way it feels to drive a car and I really appreciate car design. However, cycling in Lund has made me realize that driving isn’t everything. I really want to bike back in Atlanta and New Jersey. However, the streets are not designed for cyclists. Cars would get annoyed because a cyclist is in the way. I would not feel safe biking– there isn’t an established cycling culture like in Lund. I know a lot of people that bike in Atlanta though despite these reasons, so props to you guys- you are brave!

Cities like Lund are doing such an amazing job of reducing air pollution because they care enough to invest in change. Again it comes down to money. Of course people can spark change — for exmaple, if cycling communities form and start creating their own grounds in cities. However, it takes money and investments to really change the way cities are designed. In this sense, it again comes down to designers. What are their priorities? With the auto industry hitting rock bottom this year in the US maybe priorities are already changing?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. adam permalink
    May 26, 2009 18:41

    ooh. I wish we had that here.

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