Reports from Sweden 6 - April 24, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hello People,

Reminder, past letters, and better photos are on on the website. On the website is also a calender which tells you who is visiting us when.
username: Sweden
password: Stockholm
(capital letter required)

There is an essay of bikes below the report.

Map of Recent Trips

This last Saturday I took a long bicycle ride north of here. Göran (from Kristina's office) has lent us a bike. I knew of some bike paths that went around Brunnviken, the lake I run around, and beyond that up to Ulrikdale and Ulrikslott ("slott"=palace). and I wanted to know how far I could ride on paths.

Ulrikdale is 10km north of home. Beyond that I lost the trail for awhile, but reconnected along Edsviken ("viken"=lake). I was riding on somethings marked as "Edsvikenleden", and later on "Sverigeleden", I was just starting to get the idea that these bike routes are part of something much big then just getting across the park.

At the north end of Edsviken, in the town of Edsberg I was stopped while a foot race went by. But then on. In Sollentuna and Norrviken I went through some basic suburbs and strip development, but occasionally the wasteland would be broken by an old church. It is curious how the towns have migrated away from the churches. The old churches and town centers are at the top of hills. The new town-centers are around the railroad stations build in the lowlands. actually this part of Sweden is pretty flat, at least compared to New Hampshire.

In the town of Bollstanäs I saw a scout house. Actually the second of the day; there was also one near Ulrikdale. Past Upplands-Väsby and Fresta and all of a sudden I am in farmland. I started circling to the east, and when I pass a "Moose Crossing" sign I feel like I really have left Stockholm. I've cycled about 30 kms at this point. The Valletuna Kyrk ("Kyrk"=Kirk=Church) is very pretty (Vallentuna.jpg), located at the north tip of Vallentunasjön ("sjön"= lake or sea). I took a break here and sat in the church yard, basking in the sun. I've been fitting a head wind all day, but now that I am turning south, I think it is stopping.

In Vallentuna I stop for lunch and then found a bicycle highway towards Stockholm. In Täby I lost the path in an area under construction, but Viggbyholm is nice and bring me to a finger of the sea called Stora Värtan. From Täby on I am back in the city. Djurholm is full of very nice homes along the water. My bike path also cut through a number of boat yards, which are in the process of unwrapping big boats from winter storage. I think the ratio of boats to people for greater Stockholm must almost be as high as it is for my house.

I am getting sore and tired as I spot Stockholm University. It is funny how small Brunnviken seems as I pedal the last 3 kilometers along its shores. All told I cycled 63 km (39 miles).

On Sunday Robin and Kristina went downtown to see the Royal Apartments. They then went shopping and later to Nickolay's house. Nickolay and Natalia have had a new baby, and Kristina and Robin brought them gifts. They took the train to Täby, near where I biked.

Will and I went o Sigtuna. This is the oldest town in Sweden, dating back to the year 980 or so, but they is not much that is old in it any more. Most of the adventure was riding the bus to Solna, taking the train to Märsta and then a bus through the countryside to Sigtuna. I pointed out to Will how every major road has a bike and walking path build near it, usually 10 meters away from the road, winding through the fields.

We walked around the town and stopped at the ruins of two old churches (WillSigtunaChurch.jpg), had lunch. Will had a "kyckling" grill. ("kyckling"=chicken - Kristina says that kycking makes her think of chickens on bicycles). I think in the summer this would be a busy place, but it is quite now. Then we walked down to the water front to see Lake Mälaren. (TimSigtuna.jpg, WillSigtunaTree.jpg)

Apparently this town was the center of trade on Lake Mälaren for many years, but was sacked by Estonian pirates in the 13th century. At that point it was decided to build a fortress to protect Mälaren from the open Baltic Sea. That fortress was a stockade on an island (ie. "Stockholm" - "stock"=timber, "holm"=island).

Later we retraced our steps via the bus, train and bus home.

What else is new? Will has started Jujitsu. Robin still plays fotboll when he can (we have had some rain days). Kristina works and I write.



Will at the ruin of
a church in Sigtuna

Tim by the shores of
Lake Mälaren, Sigtuna

Will in a tree in Sigtuna

Bicycles in Stockholm

On my my bike ride I became aware of how seriously the Swedes treat bikes as real transportation. At the bottom of this essay is a table of travel modes statistics, which are curious to see. An average Swed bicycles a kilometer a day.

The first thing which strikes me about the bikes is that they are often old clunkers. I see bike shops full of bikes as fancy as we ride in New Hampshire, but I think the average bike-on-the-street is a quarter of a century old. Where do they hide the new ones? Or maybe the first thing you do with a spiffy new set of wheels is take it home, strap on an old hand-me-down grocery basket or child-seat, and cover it with a bit of grim so it wouldn't call attention to itself. Or maybe shops put fancy neon colored bikes in the windows, but actually only sell black five-speeds out the back door. This is something like fashion or auto design shows which show you things people will never actually buy to get your attention. (Someday maybe I'll write about why everyone is Stockholm wears black. Right now I am waiting to see if the spring brings more color in clothing.)

So how do you bike in the city? Most major streets have bike lanes. But usually this are lanes build into the side walk, not on the auto part of the street. What becomes interesting is the intersections where you have three separate traffic patterns crossing each other. (Bike1.jpg, Bike2.jpg) I am use to the idea that when a pedestrian has a crosswalk and right-away through car traffic, there is a "zebra" crossing. But I had not thought about zebra crossing so pedestrian could get across bike lanes.

At major intersections bikes will also have there own traffic lights, as do pedestrians. But cyclers and walkers often cross even when it is red, if there are no cars. Cars do recognize the rights of the bikes. I think starting and stopping takes more of a toll on a biker then a driver. It takes real energy out of my legs to get this bike rolling again.

Out side of the city most major roads have bike and walk ways. These are usually separated from the highway by a strip of grass. Sometimes these are compact gravel, sometimes paved. I rode on the "Sverigelden", which is part of a nation wide network of paths. (BikeMap.gif)

Biking and bad weather? I've still seen a lot of bikers in the rain. The snow was gone before we arrived. Another curious thing I've seen is a bike path in the countryside which is cutting through the woods and has street lights! Is this because if you commute by bike in November it will be dark out when you are riding?

Even though there are dozens of path which will get me out of Stockholm, I think I want to learn how to put the bike on a train so I can start my next ride "far from the madding crowd" of other bikers.

Percent of Trips by Travel Mode

Country bicycle walking public car other
Netherlands 30 18 5 45 2
Denmark 20 21 14 42 3
Germany 12 22 16 49 1
Switzerland 10 29 20 38 1
Sweden 10 39 11 36 4
Austria 9 31 13 39 8
England/Wales 8 12 14 62 4
France 5 30 12 47 6
Italy 5 28 16 42 9
Canada 1 10 14 74 1
United States 1 9 3 84 3

Bike Intersections

Bicycles around town

Stockholm Bike Map
- Image -

Stockholm Bike Map
- Detailed (BikeMap.pdf) -