We arrived in Malmo on Monday afternoon after getting caught in multiple heavy rains along the ride (which was still enjoyable). As soon as we got settled into the hostel, we walked to grab some food… Burritos, why burritos in Sweden?! The beef burrito looked like a sloppy joe! As we struggled and laughed through letting the burritos settle, our group met for a debrief of all of the traveling and moving around the past couple of days. We started out discussing how the bicycle infrastructure made us feel in Denmark and Sweden. The general consensus is that Denmark’s bicycle networks are so prevalent and well-used that they feel much more comfortable than Sweden’s infrastructure. In Denmark, the worry of an incident involving a bicycle and an automobile virtually goes away, while in Sweden, that worry comes to mind as it does in the United States. Cycling is more engrained in Denmark’s culture. Sweden grew more like the United States around the car during the mid-twentieth century. Sweden has more work to do with signage and route numbering, and has many two-way cycle tracks on only one side of the road (Denmark uses one-way cycle tracks on each side of the road). Looking at this history and experiencing drivers be less-friendly with cyclists in Sweden, our generalizations were still met with… “Wow, Swedish cities still have a bicycle network that is so much better and developed than in the United States.” Regardless, with just a couple of days or riding in both countries, we felt comfortable using these facilities. And in short, as I’ve mentioned before, Denmark and Sweden are absolutely beautiful and so fun to cycle around.
Adam, who set-up most of our travels and is touring around with us, lives in the Netherlands and bikes on a daily basis. He added that up until a recent trip back to the States, he had all but forgotten about road rage. He and his friend were driving around and they were cut-off by another driver. The friend began to have road rage. In the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden, people are not so defensive or aggressive on the road and they allow the road to be for people, not just for the single-occupancy vehicle.
Most of us took the train in both Denmark and Sweden with our bicycles. In Denmark, each train has a well-marked car specifically for bicycles and their riders. In Sweden, each train only has room for six bicycles at a time. This made the group have to take different trains in multiple cases. Also in regards to transit, we discussed city bus systems and how they are never intelligible to outsiders. That bus system maps are generally very confusing and does not aid the cyclists and visitors.
Finally, our discussion led us to what our final deliverable will be for the trip and this course. As a group, we will be developing a full-scale podcast that focuses on different infrastructure and social issues, focused around cycling. With that, I leave you with a specific quote…
“The fundamental role of the government is to increase the happiness of its people.”