Cycling conditions

Some people think it says wonderful things about Finns that we have quite a few shared cycle and pedestrian lanes in Helsinki. People get on so well with each other here, they think.

Actually, it can be a real pain to cycle on one of these, particularly in the city centre. Not everyone respects a cyclist and not every cyclist is thoughtful of pedestrians. (Vans should be abolished, of course, from anywhere near cycle/pedestrian space).

Cycling in this city can be particularly challenging in the winter. Besides all that the weather throws at a cyclist, we have to put up with a City administration for whom car parks are more important than anything and certainly more important than silly cyclists.

Still, more of us are doing it than ever. So the lovely people behind Kaupunkifillari (the cycling blog) brought their own spades, ice picks and video camera to make their route safer right where people could see them, at the Main Railway Station. This way they also showed some of that old talkoo-spirit that Finnish culture still has in spades (a bit like the Big Society but without the annoying political rhetoric).

(Look out also for their tweed run, coming up)

But there is good news from the City too. For over a year it has had a dedicated cycling officer, Marek Salerno, whose job is to come up with good ideas for increasing cycling. Helsingin Sanomat did have a fabulous bit of news yesterday. A proper cycle lane is going to be built in Mannerheimintie, just on the stretch where those most annoying snarl-ups with pedestrians and tourists (sometimes they are the same people) tend to occur. Here cyclists will be given the space they need to do their thing safely and without dawdling.

Work will begin in August, not before.

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