Today, and most of this week, your correspondent has been cycling along the bicycle lanes in Helsinki to and from meetings. He has been doing it all year round except when the snow is too deep for the last 20 years.
The experience has been a joy, very different experience from cycling in London, Scarsdale in New York, cycling in Paris, Stockholm and Singapore.
The main reason is that the air is clear and clean and there is not too much traffic. The rush hour here in Helsinki is a line of cars 100 m long.
Nobody seems to mind too much if you cycle along the pavement, careful not to run over dogs, old ladies or youths on their electric scooters.
He cycles on a heavy dark red Swedish bike called “Pilen” which means Arrow in English. It doesn’t go fast, and most of the time it goes rather slowly. It has a big basket at the front on the handlebars and a carrier rack on the back behind the saddle. He uses “U-lock” which seems to keep the thieves away although, the real reason is probably because the bike is just too heavy for anyone to steal, and, in any case, it’s a ladies’ bike. There are not too many female thieves in Helsinki…
One often wonders why ladies’ bikes is not used by men because you don’t have to swing your legs up to the clouds to get on it.
We only had one week of ice and a little snow during the first two weeks of November so it’s quite safe to ride the bike along Helsinki’s Boulevard. There is only one Boulevard here in Helsinki and although the ice and snow is a little slippery, the wet leaves from the trees is a much greater danger.
The other great danger are the heavy uneven cobblestones and deep tram lines that they use on the roads here.
Today most cyclists use the helmet because of the ice and snow and because Finnish drivers are dangerous. But there are other dangers too from the cobblestones. If you keep your teeth closed too tightly while running over them you may crack a tooth or two, and if your saddle is too hard without the softer bubble cover, the male cyclist may end up needing urological surgery.
But so far so good – your correspondent can recommend cycling in Helsinki as a great experience.