Since bike lanes are a big point of discussion in my hometown right now, I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you about a place that does not hem and haw about their bike lanes. I’d like to tell you about a place where bike lanes are no joke: Sweden.
Okay, so as you know, my BFF Mags and I were a little brain fried while we were in Sweden (from writing theses, not from doing acid, though it was probably hard to tell the difference). And I have to say, the fact that we managed to not die from being hit by a cyclist is a miracle.
The first time it happened went something like this…
SCENE: ANDREA and MAGS on the streets of Gothenburg.
ANDREA and MAGS are consulting their Lonely Planet guide on a sidewalk in Gothenburg. The sun is shining. The grass is green. All is quiet and peaceful (and clean, because Sweden is immaculately and wonderfully clean).
ANDREA: Okay, so do we keep walking this way?
MAGS: Yeah…it looks like up this way, and then the street’s gonna sort of curve around…
A strange sound, somewhat like a small airplane, starts to approach. ANDREA and MAGS both look up at one another, puzzled.
MAGS: What is that?
ANDREA: Yeah, I hear that too. I don’t know.
A VOICE IN THE BACKGROUND NEITHER GIRL IS PAYING ATTENTION TO: Hey! Hey! Hey!
MAGS: That’s weird…
ANDREA: I know, it’s like –
A VOICE IN THE VERY NEAR BACKGROUND: HEY! HEY! HEY!
Just then, the WHOOSHING sound – combined with the yelling – are so near that ANDREA and MAGS jump back, startled. A GUY ON A BIKE zips by so quickly that his speed creates enough wind to blow the girls’ hair off to one side.
THE VOICE FROM THE VERY NEAR BACKGROUND THAT HAS NOW BEEN DETERMINED TO BE A GUY ON A BIKE: Ansdfksfewufwh! Dwnewifnkm!
(Swedish for either some swears or some sort of explanation/apology.)
ANDREA and MAGS stare at one another, in shock.
ANDREA: Holy shit.
ANDREA: Did you see how fast that guy was biking?
MAGS: We could have been killed! (She looks down) That’s a bike lane!
ANDREA: Oh geez!
MAGS: Holy shit.
Over the course of our trip to Sweden, the following would take place at least 10-15 more times:
SCENE: A street, anywhere in Sweden.
PERSON ON BIKE: Hey! Hey! Hey!
ANDREA: Margaret! You’re in the bike lane!
MAGS: HOLY SHIT AHHH!
It was like we were magnetically attracted to the bike lane. Honestly.
A lot of guide books and websites told me that I shouldn’t expect any warmth or super friendliness in Sweden, because they have a different culture and are not typically “warm.” I found that to be total bullshit. I encountered nothing but warm and friendly Swedes. I love the Swedish!
The one thing I did learn that no guide books mentioned is that you should never mess with Swedish bike lanes.
P.S. I want to extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who reads this blog, whether you’re a subscriber and you read every single day, or you’ve just stumbled upon an entry here and there. In less than five months, I’ve surpassed an astonishing (to me) 10,000 views! And I’m not even halfway to 365 days! Please keep reading (I’ll keep trying to be interesting and/or funny enough to read) and please spread the word! xx