I’ve been in Helsinki just over three weeks now and have done a whole load of riding, so much in fact that my poor arse threw in the towel and I got saddle sores.
On the whole living here is great, I have very few complaints, riding is also a pleasure for the most part. Here are a few thoughts on my experiences so far…
They are everywhere, in fact people don’t really ride on the road here. A few days ago there was an old guy going nuts and shouting at a roadie who was on the road, my girlfriend told me that he was angry because the government had spent millions on the cycle lanes and the rogue lycra lout wasn’t even using them, haha.
Nearly all pavements are split in two so that pedestrians and cyclists can go about their business with a minimum of fuss and from what I’ve seen it works pretty well. Getting from A-B is easy and you don’t have to worry about cars, though I am missing the excitement of riding with traffic.
CROSSING THE ROAD
Everyone here waits for the green man, it is idiotic and it really frustrates me. There is no reason why an adult with good sight should wait for a green light when there are no approaching cars anywhere.
In the UK people tend to cross when the time is right, obviously some use the crossing and will always wait for the green man but generally common sense prevails and negotiating even the busiest road is done without the assistance of lights and beeps. Not so here, I only see a tiny fraction of people crossing at will and I assume that these people are foreigners like me.
If there are kids waiting then I will wait because I don’t want to encourage them to run across the road willy nillilly (I also wait in the UK) but for the most part I just use my eyes and go whenever I’m ready, much to the disgust of the locals.
This issue is exacerbated for me because like I said above cyclists go with the flow of pedestrians and not with the flow of traffic so even though you don’t have cars to contend with you have to stop every two minutes for the bloody green man!
No matter where you want to go here you will inevitably pass through some woodland and/or cross a lake, the entire place is like a nature reserve. Well maintained multi use paths follow alongside bodies of water and through forests seamlessly connecting roads. Riding here really is a sensory pleasure, it’s unlike any other city I have ridden in.
The centre of Helsinki is pretty built up but the lack of trees is more than compensated for with stunning architecture and water. The suburbs are incredibly beautiful and birds fly around in flocks without worrying too much about us humans. I know it sounds cliched but at all times you are surrounded by flora and fauna in Finland, I love it!
I’ve only explored a very tiny percentage of what is right on my doorstep and now that autumn is closing in at a frankly alarming rate I need to take in as much as I can before winter arrives and slows me down.