October 29, 2013

Cycling in Finland

After experiencing the amazing cycling culture in the Netherlands, cycling in Finland has felt even more dangerous than before. In my new country I got used to the idea of cycling without a helmet. Very bad idea, but the cycling culture kind of sucks you into the new thinking. No one wears a helmet in the Netherlands! Except hard core mtb or road cyclists! I wear my helmet only when I go mountain biking. It's kind of interesting how the thinking changes. In Finland I used to wear my helmet every time, but not in the Netherlands. Even babies and children don't wear helmets, and that's just plain stupidity! Anything can happen in the traffic!

In Finland it sometimes feels suicidal to cycle, with or without a helmet. Things are getting better in Helsinki, but very slowly. I discovered some new bike lanes, while driving around the city, but they seem to end without a warning and suddenly you're just cycling along the cars, whose drivers don't really give a damn about cyclists. While cycling in the city, you really need to be very alert all the time, pedestrians are the most dangerous subjects for a cyclist in a city like Helsinki. They don't remember that someone might actually drive a bike, and they can just stop wherever, turn whenever, without checking, if there could be a cyclist driving the cycle lane.

If the city of Helsinki wants to reduce the amount of cars in the city centre, it would be extremely important to make the city cyclist friendly. One of the greatest things that has happened for cyclist in Helsinki, was the opening of Baana, which is a light traffic route from the West Harbor to Töölönlahti.  Baana was built in a former railway cutting once used by goods traffic to and from the port area, and it was opened in the summer of 2012. The same kind of cycling solutions would give people a reason to start riding their bikes in the city. When it's easier to get from the point A to the point B by bike than by car, people will seriously consider leaving their cars at home and start using their bikes instead.

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