Thursday, August 30, 2012

Welcome to a life of helmet hair!

One of the things I was most looking forward to when it was decided I'd be moving to Sweden was not  having a car. Luckily, Uppsala is a city with a very good bus system. But even more luckily, Uppsala is a city with a very good system of bicycle routes! (Seriously, check out the bicycle routes on the google map.)

Greg and I have gotten pretty good at taking the buses. So far we haven't had any issues with not knowing which direction is North and which is South (which happened in Barcelona after getting out of the underground train). We have also gotten pretty good at showing up at the bus stop just when our bus is driving away. The timetables are all online, but sometimes I just need a break from Swedish webpages, so I rarely check them before we head anywhere. The wait is never too terrible, only 10 minutes during busier times and 20 minutes during less busy times. But lately we were getting more and more aware of how we could have walked halfway to town in the amount of time we spent waiting.

And so we bought bicycles! My bicycle is the Viking - Elegance 3. I don't know what Greg's is called, but it is neat. We also bought matching helmets (I asked the poor worker who was helping us for about an hour what the cheapest helmet that would fit my head was.) which are not required by law. And we bought lights and reflectors, which are required by law. Our bicycles also came with bells, which is apparently also required by law. Today Greg got me a basket for my bicycle, so now I am fully decked out. Oh and we got these rear wheel locking devices, as well as a rope lock thing.

Interesting fact about the bicycles here: the front brake is controlled with a hand lever, but the rear brake is controlled by pedalling backwards. I am still getting used to this. I had a bit of trouble today, due to that as well as the fact that my turning radius is large, and I sort of fell over, but I didn't scrape a knee or anything, so all is well.

Interesting fact about the helmets here: they have this mechanism to easily adjust the size, for the purpose of being able to wear a hat under your helmet whenever you want.

For the bicycles we pay up front, but I figure that if I ride my bicycle for 100 days, it will have paid for itself in the money I save from not taking the bus. Also, I highly recommend Cykelringen; it was a superb shop with really helpful workers who can mimic the sound of a zip-tie when they can't think of the English word for it.

Also, I enjoyed looking back to see the last time I wrote about riding my bike, which was possibly the last time I even rode a bike. I also found it really funny to read about former bike-riding ambitions which failed miserably. Luckily this time I don't have a car to make it easy to back out of my plan.

Above and below are photos of bicycles outside of the lab. This is taken just as we were leaving for the day. During peak hours there are more than twice this many bicycles.

Bicycle parking near the river. Also, the road pictured has one-way traffic on half of it, and a luxurious bike lane for the other half of it, as demonstrated by the person on the bike.

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