Two Weeks – Four Countries

I am on vacation. Ironically I have spent much of the last two weeks in places where everyday cycling is normal and ubiquitous, yet I haven’t pedaled a bike since I left home. I needed a break from the bike and, between a respiratory infection and this vacation, I have only Biked 3 days in the last 3 weeks.

We’ve been to Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, Malmo, back to Stockholm, and Reykjavik. There is so.much to like about each city, but I know I would hate living here in winter. Too cold and dark. Even now in late spring, I find that going to sleep at 11 pm when it is still light outside to be unsettling.

I thought if like Copenhagen the best, having been there once before, but Malmo and Stockholm are much more my cup of tea. There is a much less hectic vibe in these two Swedish cities. Oslo is scruffier. Copenhagen is dirty,  noisy, and fullnof bustle. Reykjavik tiny and overrun with tourists with backpacks.

For all its reputation as one of the world’s best cycling cities, Copenhagen can’t hold a candle to Stockholm. In Stockholm everyone plays by the rules. Pedestrians are separated from bikes which are separated from cars which are separated from trains. There are traffic signals for each. Everybody waits their turn. It’s like watching an elaborate, effortless dance. People don’t look left or right when they cross the street. I did not see a single angry interaction between mode users in Stockholm.

It helps that transit is cheap, goes everywhere, has very high trip frequency, and that gas costs over $6 per gallon. Swedes, Danes and Finns took a very long term view and designed their transportation infrastructure well.  What a shame DC area transport planning is so Balkanized.

I know I am ready for this vacation to end because I am craving Cheerios (had some for breakfast today), and I miss my bike, the Nats, and my friends. In what order I refuse to say.

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