Wednesday morning it started snowing, and has not stopped since. Sometimes there are big flakes, sometimes little crystals, but snowing the whole time. It has really piled up! In the fields where it has never been plowed, it is about hip height, and that is with some compression. The municipality is doing a reasonable job of keeping up with the clearing the snow, but my bike has been abandoned at the University since Wednesday afternoon when it was ankle deep on all the paths and too slippery to really get around on my aggressive-nub-but-non-spike tires.
Biking in the snow takes surprisingly few adaptations here since the roads are mostly clear. However, there are a few tricky things. Graham’s bike, for example, resists shifting and braking when it gets colder than about -7. Luckily, noe that we are working out at a gym in easy walking distance, he doesn’t need to use it much.
The tricky thing when it is this cold is what to wear, since I can’t just wear my work clothes like I did in the Fall. I got some really great SUPER BRIGHT rain pants with vents and zipper legs that fit over my work pants and keep the wind and (some of) the cold out. Pair that with a massive parka, hat and super mitts, and I am ready to go! But not too fast, because I don’t want to get too sweaty on my way to work.
Scandinavia and Europe in general seem to be pretty bike friendly places. There are lots of bike lanes and it seems pretty safe to ride a bike through the city, wiihout having to battle cars or traffic (although I have witnessed a few bike traffic jams). Although I haven’t seen any multi-level bike parking garages like in Amsterdam, there seem to be plenty of spots to lock up your bike, and bike parking lots are usually pretty well populated.
Bike lanes in Stockholm, separate from traffic
Bike lanes in Copenhagen running through a pedestrian area, bike parking in the background
Bike parking at Odense University
Most bikes seem to be the sit-upright, single-gear, peddle backwards to brake variety with fenders, rattraps, and baskets. My mountain bike with dual shifters is a real minority. I have taken some pictures of the most interesting or unusual bikes – although what is ‘unusual’ to me is actually pretty common in Scandinavia.
One thing that I wish I had more pictures of are the people that ride the bikes. (The ethical researcher in me hates taking people’s pictures without permission, and it is hard to get permission as they are riding by.) People of all ages ride bikes – toddlers in baby seats (see ‘minivan’ below), kids going to school, people going to work, and grandmas and grandpas going to the market or to Church. It is great! I also like people’s bike riding outfits. Now that it is dark by 3:45 in the afternoon, I see more and more reflective gear in our town. However, it seemed that in Stockholm and Copenhagen riding a bike was no excuse not to be fashionable. There were no MEC-type reflector-biking pants to be seen (this isn’t tour de France!), everyone is wearing the high heels and boots and dresses and miniskirts and suits that they will be wearing at work. The fenders (mostly) keep people from getting wet and sometimes they hold an umbrella as they ride along. Helmets will wreck your hair, but in Sweden it is the law for children to wear them, so some adults (mostly parents) wear them too to set a good example. (I have been bad-assing it since I got here sans helmet!)