28 September 2010

Viva Helsinki - Arrival

Helsinki Bicycle Life_Helka 05
Oh my. Helsinki. What a town. Oozing with a Nordic cool that is somewhat familiar to a Copenhagener and yet quite different at the same time. I was there to speak at the Megapolis 2025 Festival to present a keynote about promoting urban cycling positively - as well as a wonderful Cycle Chic event. The festival is the work of the Finnish NGO Dodo and it was brilliant.
Helsinki Bicycle Life_Helka 04
I hadn't been in Helsinki for 20 years so I was itching to get back. Whenever I arrive in a city on a bicycle/urban mobility gig I am always keen to gain a quick first impression of the bicycle life of the place. So first up are some shots taken from the hotel - Hekla Hotel (cool place, brilliant staff) - upon arrival.
Helsinki Bicycle Life_Helka 02
Right off the bat I knew I'd feel at home.
Helsinki Bicycle Life_Helka 06 Helsinki Bicycle Life_Helka 08

Of course one must first arrive in a city at a train station or airport and I always find myself looking for the very first sign of bicycles on the journey into the city. Yes, I realise that it's a bit like trainspotting, but isn't it a great deal more aesthetic than that? :-)

Helsinki Bicycle Life_TuusulaTusby Helsinki Bicycle Life_Moment of Paus
First spotting at left. Followed shortly after by the photo on the right.

Helsinki Bicycle Life_Hill Climb Helsinki Bicycle Life_Hill Climb 2
And then a Helsinki Citizen Cyclist heading up one of the many hills in the city on her funky Jobo bicycle.

Helsinki Bicycle Life_Crossing Couple
It all just got better and better the closer we came to the city centre. I'm just getting started. Stay tuned. Viva Helsinki.


That's Not My Age said...

Great photos - think I need to organise a Scandinavian trip!

Mike Collinge said...

Man, I just want to go to Helsinki now!

Heidi said...

I live in Helsinki and have been a regular reader of your blog for a long time already but haven't just commented before.

Great that you enjoyed Helsinki! I am always so impressed by bicycle culture in other European countries... in my humble opinion, we in Finland do not have such a culture yet. We have the climate challenges and also the transport infrastructure is not very optimized for bicycles. Bicycling is pretty much about practicality i.e. practical, waterproof sports clothes etc. rather than style. Of course in the city center you are increasingly starting to see more "cycle chic" looks as well :)

However, Helsinki is a lovely city - enjoy your stay!

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Yep; notice the cyclists riding on the lines, either side of the lines, on the walking part of the pavement etc. They might look smart, but they will be pissing off the pedestrians thanks to utterly random Helsinki "is it a cycle path? Is not a cycle path?" cycle path 'system' (and I use the last word ironically. I'm glad the downtown Helsinki cycle path system can function as fashion show, as then its good for one thing because its pretty lousy at getting you from point A to B by bike!

Colville-Andersen said...

Most of the people I saw gracing the streets of Helsinki were cycling slow and easy and I never saw any pedestrians get the jitters. Except once, but that was a geared up "cyclist" trying to "reclaim the streets" or some damn thing.

Citizen Cyclists über alles.

escalante blogger said...

For me, that design of their bikes is only intended for one person.

artfulscribe said...

Very cool.

What is it about the name Helsinki that makes you want to say it over and over again? It's like a party in your mouth. Helsinki. Helsinki. Helsinki....

Colville-Andersen said...

escalante blogger: what a weird statement. bicycles have been used for doubling for 125 years.