Cycling Across Scandinavia: Après Moi, Le Déluge

cycling scandinavia robert ouellette photo

Guest poster Robert Ouellette has written for the National Post, Corporate Knights and his own Reading Toronto. He is cycling across Sweden and reports:

Leaving Copenhagen hurts. And it is not just because we're abandoning the most livable big city I have ever visited (This is our second visit here, but having bikes has made this trip far more impressive). We are heading north to the Swedish city of Helsingborg. It is solid rain outside the hotel. Two inches or five centimeters are expected. The wind is straight into our faces blowing at about fifty kilometers an hour.

We have sixty km to do today (see the attached map from

cycling scandinavia robert ouellette photo

Given the weather there is some discussion about taking advantage of Copenhagen's 'S' Train. Any sane person would. The trains offer free passage for bikes in a special car that boasts roll-on platforms and, once again, air pumps for anyone who has a flat tire. We could climb on at Central Station and go north about fifteen k or so. We decide to tough it out. Within seconds of leaving the trendy '27' Hotel (great breakfast and dinner included!) both of us are mostly soaked.

cycling scandinavia robert ouellette photo

In spite of the deluge, Copenhagen's cycle paths make getting out of the downtown to the coast highway easy in spite of this much rain. Take a look at the included street cross-section to understand why. There is room for all traffic. When the cars do have have to cross bicycle paths there seems to be mutual respect. Where is that in Toronto? There isn't a war on cars here because the city has made it so easy to bike that most car drivers defected to the other side.

One commenter on the last posting noted that twenty-five years ago Copenhagen's Jan Gehl faced the same sort of derision Toronto bike advocates face today. There is hope?

We take the coast road to the point where a dedicated bike path is available. What is remarkable is the level of architecture we pass along the way. Almost every house or apartment complex exhibits qualities of well-considered modernism. Design consideration is everywhere in this country. It is raining so hard now- - ocean winds are driving paintball velocity drops right at us- - that we can't stop to take photographs. Note to self: Get a underwater camera for the next bike trip.

cycling scandinavia robert ouellette photo

Our interim destination is Louisiana- -the famed museum that is. The rambling space is home to a world-class permanent collection. Today, though, we are attracted by the temporary architecture show. We arrive looking so drowned that the attendants let us in the side door bypassing fifty or so other patrons waiting at the main entrance. The place is packed. It is vacation time in Scandinavia and half the country is here to look at the latest trends in architectural design. How do they cope with the crowds on a clear day?

We make the ferry to Helsingborg, Sweden. Still raining. Like mad. An inventory of our goods turns up one major casualty; my passport. It got soaked through a 'waterproof' bag. Our hotel is perfect. The 'Tornet' is so clean it cuts, and our room has a small kitchen. The bikes fit too. We go down to the waterfront to look at a development project done about fifteen years ago. No surprise. It is good. Why can't we do waterfronts in Canada? All ours look like they either came from designs for a gulag or Queen Victoria's generation.

Next stop north to Gothenburg.

cycling scandinavia robert ouellette photo

One last thing. Someone asked how we packed our bikes for the 800k trip. Here is a photo of Sarah showing our gear.

More from Robert:
Cycling Across Scandinavia: You Don't Have To Be A Starchitect Ambulance Chaser To Be Impressed
A New "Lost Generation" Cycles Across Scandinavia To Understand North America

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