What has two wheels and can get you anywhere?
That’s right – the bike! Biking is Sweden’s transportation method of choice. In Stockholm alone, 150,000 people commute to work by bike every day. I know it might seem like a weird choice in a country that get an average of 163 days of rain in Stockholm and 170 days in Malmö, but Swedes love to bike! And here is why:
Sweden is Flat
Sweden is a very flat country. The highest point is Kebnekaise, a mountain that is just 2,097 m / 6,880 ft. Really…that is the tallest point in this whole country! So biking is a cinch. And if you have a bike that has over three gears, you’ll barely break a sweat.
Ever considered taking a cycling holiday? Me neither. But Sweden is just the place to do it. There are a lot of resources online for planning a trip, like this one or this one. And you’ll probably see something you never would have had you been driving!
Biking is Fast, Safe, & Easy
Biking is made incredibly easy in Sweden. As was already mentioned, Sweden is flat. But more than that, the bike paths throughout Sweden are well-marked and well-maintained. Stockholm alone has 760 kilometers / 472 miles of bicycle paths!
I feel very safe biking in Sweden. The bike paths are separated from the pedestrian paths and are almost always off the main road, usually separated by at least a curb from the cars. The only other traffic on the bike paths will be people on electric scooters and mopeds (which I wish would drive with the cars, but I don’t make the laws here!).
Find a path throughout your city and realize that you can get across town faster by bike than by car. And parking is a breeze – any free pole will do! Or get out of town for a long-distance rural ride. If you end up getting tired and want to take the easy journey home, know that you can bring your bike on the train (but it is less common to do so on a city bus).
Biking Keeps You Fit
Biking is good for you! And when you are biking daily to work, to the yoga studio, to friend’s, to the grocery store, and then back home, you won’t notice all of the fika you have been having since you moved to Sweden. Your waistline, heart, and lungs will thank you. Plus you’ll get a lovely endorphin kick every day!
Biking is Sustainable
Swedes love all things sustainable (like composting, recycling, and wind energy) and biking goes right there with it. Biking is zero-waste, unless you count the CO2 you’re puffing out as you peddle across town. And, of course, biking is a cost-effective transportation option.
Still not convinced?
Most Swedes have a bike, but in case you don’t, many municipalities have a city bike service. Malmö By Bike is great and costs just 250 SEK (~$25) for a year membership. That is like $0.07 a day. Ah, Socialism at its best. You can pick up a bike at any of the 100 stations through the city and use that bike for an hour before docking it at any other station. It is an amazing service and what I used exclusively for my first two years in Sweden before finally deciding to purchase a bike of my own.
- Looking for a bike? Try looking up a local bike auction to get the best deals.
- If you go to a shop, be prepared to pay around 2,000 SEK (~$200) for a used bike. That’s right. They are pricy! But a new bike will be at least 5,000 SEK and will be more of a target for theft.
- Biking hand signals differ in Sweden – at least from the US. Read up on biking rules here.
- Biking is great, but what about during the dark, dark winters here? To stay safe while biking invest in a reflexväst (reflection vest) like most Swedes do. Safety is always fashion-forward.
- Another great bike safety tip is to purchase a Hövding, or the Swedish invention of an airbag for your head. From a distance they can look like a scarf, but up close you will notice more of a neck brace shape. You see them everywhere here. It is a great way to keep your head safe while biking without messing up your hair. Score one for the Swedes!
- Bikes often get stolen in Sweden so be sure to invest in two good locks. Consider making one of them a rear tire lock like this from AXA. They are sleek and inconspicuous.
Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!