Travel no longer necessarily broadens the mind but it still raises the odd question. Like, how come London homes feel so cramped to us, and Finnish homes so airy and light by comparison, when over and over again one hears about how, statistically speaking and comparatively speaking, Finnish homes are small and cramped? Living area per person in Helsinki is around 35 square metres, throughout Finland it’s around 38. The UK average in 2004 was 44 metres square. The riddle remains.
Another question is why do almost all our friends in London seem to cycle when there are so few decent cycle lanes? And conversely, why do so few of our Finnish friends cycle when Helsinki’s cycle-lane provision is so huge by European standards that it doesn’t even fit on the Eurostat publication’s graph!? (Yes, it gets cold in Helsinki and windy and horrible, but for at leat eight months of the year a bicycle is a definite asset.)
And why is it so difficult to find answers to these questions online? Information overload is as much of a problem in the UK as in Finland. Alas, it’s made worse by the proliferation of municipal copywriting which uses words such as innovative, waterside, vibrant, cohesive, community, democratic, quality of life, creative, entrepreneurial, competitive, convenient (and a few more) and jumbles them up in any variation to produce prose like this:
“Generally innovation environment means,
for instance, functional labour market and research
and education system.”
It’s only good practice to give a full reference to the document that contains this nugget of waffle. It’s from the otherwise relatively informative The 2009 State of Helsinki Region – European Comparisons, from page 9.
In sum. I think we’ll give up on comparison before we even start. Back to Helsinki very soon.