Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Some white stuff from above

Last weekend, just before I headed off to Innsbruck, it started to snow in Vienna. It also did when I returned on Sunday evening, and it still does!

Now that's quite some snow for Vienna.

white snow

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gray with colors

Winter in Vienna generally means gray. A lot of gray sky. It's cloudy and foggy. If at least it would snow! But it very rarely does. What to do?

I survive this time of the year by wearing some colorful clothes. An additional benefit of this brightening up is that it also increases visibility. Today I set off with Paula for a short gift shopping trip. Since it's cold one has to wear proper protection anyhow. My choice of the day was a blue and red woolen combination. Feels much warmer already, doesn't it? What are you favorite winter cycling clothes?

Ready ...

ready to go

... and go!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A short stop in Dresden

It's already a few months back that I visited Dresden, capital of Saxony in the East of Germany. I arrived by an overnight train, pretty early and the place was still sleepy. Still, quite a few people were already up and bright on their way on bike everywhere.

Of course, one of the first things I noticed were rental bikes and out came my camera.

rent a bike

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Learning how to ride a bike

In Mussoorie -- a small town in the foothills of the Himalaya ranges -- I had the pleasure of watching a little boy taking the first steps towards becoming a cyclist. He was on a pink-and-yellow bike that was actually too small for him. Attached to the rear wheel there seemed to be a construction for training wheels, but the wheels were missing. His father walked beside him and gently held on to the seat/backrest.

easy cycling

Sunday, October 24, 2010

When it rains in Uttrakhand

In India there are essentially three seasons -- the hot, the wet and the cool. In September I was again in India, partly still during the Monsoon. There were major floods in Uttrakhand. It was amazing to see how people got on with the amount of water.

Many tourists wrapped themselves up in cheap single-use raincoats in bright colors. They were available for 10 Rupees only. The footbridges (actually also used by cyclists, motorbikers and monkeys :-)) were full of such crowds.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cycling the campus

Long time since I wrote last, I must apologize. I was off on holiday in India, and then got pretty sick for a while. But now me and Paula are back!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pasta bicicletta

A great thing about living in central Europe is that one can easily reach many different neighboring countries and enjoy their unique langages and cultures. From his last visit to Italy my father brought me some very special pasta. The noodles are bicycles in six distinct colors. What a sweet idea! (although I fear that I'm already considered a nerd among my family)

six bicycles

Friday, September 17, 2010

A trip to the central cemetery

robably it's not to everybodies taste to spend her/his weekends on a graveyard, but I like to visit the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna from time to time. The Zentralfriedhof is the biggest cemetry in Vienna. It is located in the outskirts of the city (in Simmering) and can easily be reached by bike. There are also various connections by public transport (e.g. trams 6 and 71).

I set off in the morning at the Donaukanal bike path ...

donaukanal bike path
another panda

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Triomphe de l'Auto?

Generally I found Paris to be a very bicycle friendly city. However, the (probably) biggest road in Paris, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is still invested by cars. They are loud, stinky and the come in large numbers. I walked along the whole 2 km stretch, from the Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle (with the famous Arc de Triomphe).


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Paris is more beautiful on a Vélib'

Vélib' is the popular bike share program in Paris, France. Vélib stands for "vélo liberté" (bicycle freedom) and "la ville est plus belle à vélo" (cycling makes the city beautiful) is their welcoming slogan. End of August I stayed in Paris for two weeks, and luckily I also had the time for a spin on a Vélib'. Here are some of my impressions...

me cycling off on a velib bike in paris
Me on a Vélib' near Paris 6 University

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Compartida, la vida es más

This title is a tag line from a TV mobile network company ad broadcasted in Spain during this spring (Spanish readers, correct me if I'm wrong ;)). It means "Shared, life is more". As a linguist, I am still pondering over the sense of grammatical unfinishedness of the tag line, but bear with me, "professional defect", I put a great dose to control myself but am not always successful...But that's another matter.

There were different ads (you can see them in Youtube) with the motto, but if I had to choose I would take this one:

Until the end of the ad, you are not sure what it is about...then you see the motto and start noticing some details...which ones do you get? Do you think the motto is appropriate? And, last but not least, do you like the ad?

The more I watch it, the more I am amazed on how well it was orchestrated!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Travel diary - Day 4

On my latest post we arrived at Korppoo on Monday night. It is a small town that has less than 1000 year-round inhabitants but a lot more in the summer. For Tuesday, we had only 30 kilometers’ ride left, which was substantially less than the 150 kilometers we had travelled that day.

Röda huset

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Travel diary - Day 3

The last post ended with me and my sister staying overnight in Laupunen, which is pretty much on the half-way on our journey through the Southwestern archipelago. We are at the northeastern point of the route, and today I shall tell you about the southwards heading road. The day's journey of 150 km (much of it by ferries) was probably the most interesting and anticipated one out of all four days, because it is the furthest away from the continent and we entered the outer archipelago. That is where ships and rope ferries replace bridges and islands get small and distances between them get longer.

The third day, Monday, began with saying goodbyes with our kind hosts. After a couple of kilometers ride it was already time time for the first ferry crossing. It was a big ship called Aurora, and it was the second and the last ferry that cost money on the ring road. The day was half cloudy and rather warm, but the wind in the archipelago is very strong, so we got the chills as soon as we embarked on the ferry. So, if one goes to the archipelago, I recommend to take some warm clothes with them even in the middle of a heat wave.

Sea view from the ferry Aurora

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Painted-on bike symbols in Paris

I've only been in Paris for a week, but gathered more impressions than I can deal with. It's even harder to sum it all up. Paris is many things I love -- stunning, green, multicultural, open, relaxing and (within the last days) also sunny. Despite its size, I walk most of the time or use the metro. Throughout the week I work, but I try to catch hold of some special features that Paris offers. Well, among many other things, Paris is famous for the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. Let's have a look at some other paintings today...

What I particularly like are the cycle paths and bike lanes throughout the town. They are really wide and clearly marked. Some of the bike symbols are boxed in green. Can anybody tell me the meaning of that?

segregated bike lane  bike lane on the road
Segregated two-way cycle path and bike lane in Paris

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To Paris by train

Since beginning of this week I'm in Paris, France. Not for a holiday, but that doesn't matter. I still intend to enjoy it as much as possible :).

I was traveling by train all the way from Vienna, which took me about 12 hours (including a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany). Some might say that this is too long for a train ride and prefer to fly. I love train rides. According to my grandma I already enjoyed my first big train ride without parents at the age of 3 (we moved houses between two towns in Austria). My granny feared that I would start to cry because I would miss my close family, but instead I happily looked outside the window, pointed at sheep and giggled.

IC (Intercity) train of the German railway company DB at Frankfurt train station

Monday, August 16, 2010

Travel diary - Day 2

A week ago I wrote about the beginning of the bicycle journey to the Southwestern Archipelago, and today we shall continue where we left, at the farm of the Taattinens.

After a well slept night, breakfast and some goodbyes me and my twin continued the journey along the northern section of the ring road. The weather was really nice, the sun was shining and it wasn't too hot. We had a quick stop at Merimasku, where we visited a local church. It was old, maybe from the 1700's, but in my opinion it was not quite as awesome as the Seili church. Nearby the church there was a parked German tourist bus that had a carrier for the bikes. Later on we sighted the bus and the Germans often because they followed the same route for the day.

On a scenic bridge

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Travel diary - Day 1 (afternoon)

On the last post I told you about the first day's morning. So, we were traveling by the bad luck ship Linta, and that's where we'll continue today.

Linta makes a stop at the Island of Seili before it continues to its destination to Hanka port. Susanna was eager to see the island, so we took a couple of hours stop there. I have been on Seili before: it has been the location of a marine research center of my university since the 60's. I was there once for a field course, so I knew my way around. The island has a controversial history as an island of no return and for its booze-colored history. There has been people living and agricultural activity since the 1500's, and in the 1600's it became a hospital island for the leprosy patients. Basically, if you went in, you never got out again. In Seili the patients made moonshine to get some extra income, for the living conditions weren't exactly comparable to modern hospitals. In 1785 the last leprosy patient on the island died of old age (!). In the same year an asylum was founded on the island, and in 1889 it became an asylum for women only. That's why the grave yard of the island has only tombstones with women's names on them. The asylum functioned until the 60's when the island became a university island.

Seili, the island of no return

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Travel diary - Day 1 (morning)

As you may remember, I've been dreaming of taking a cycling holiday in the Southwestern Archipelago for a while now. I asked my twin sister, Susanna, to come with me. Actually, she was very eager to come, and she enjoys organizing things, so she made the travel time table and reserved accommodation and bikes. We decided to have a 4-day holiday with 3 overnights and make it as cheap as possible without being uncomfortable or losing essential parts of the experience. Altogether, the nights, bikes and ferries cost us 175 euros each.

My twin, Susanna.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Minor differences

I found this comic today, and well, I think there is some truth to it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Florence-Tortosa: a trip on a bike prototype

Two weekends ago I was in the wonderful Renaissance fair of Tortosa. During the 16th century, this city in the South of Catalonia was a flourishing city as it was located in a strategic place in the Aragonese crown, just on the way of the three important cities at the time: Barcelona, Valencia and Zaragoza.

During this Renaissance fair, many activities related to this time are held. One of these activities is always an open air exhibition about some topic related to Medieval and Renaissance times. This year it was related to Leonardo's prototypes and surely, there was this:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The bicycle, a status symbol?

We all know that cars are status symbols. But what about bicycles? I think they are too. It's not so much about expensive bicycles though, more about style.

Still, over-priced bicycles are on their way. I finally got the message when I strolled through the posh center of Vienna last night. A bicycle in a shop window at the Graben.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mystery of the abandoned bicycle

This is just a little peculiar story that took place last Friday in Turku, Finland, and that was covered by several national newspapers and tabloids. Here's a loose translation of the version in Turun Sanomat.

The abandoned bike. Image published in Turun Sanomat.

Friday, July 23, 2010

About fairness

A few days back I got this fairness flyer on the Donaukanal bike path:

flyer - fairness zone donaukanal (front)
"fair cyclists" flyer -- to read the back click here (in German)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Self-made Sunday: trailers

Always wanted to own a bicycle trailer but never had the money to buy one? Here are some ideas to get you started on building one yourself. If you have succeeded, let us know!

The first time I thought about a post about self-made trailers when I came across this beauty on the WNBR in June. It's simply a lowered shopping cart with a welded on frame that connects it to the wheels and the bicycle. Smart idea!

self-made trailer

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cycling in a heat wave -- it's not about shorts, it's about ventilation!

Heat waves in Austria are not something pleasant. The houses are built for cold temperatures, not warm. Currently I experience:
  • outside: 37°C (= 99 F) in a city full of concrete, few trees
  • asphalt: 50°C (= 122 F) according to some measurements by Asfinag
  • office: certainly > 30°C (= 86 F), estimated 32°C (= 90 F) during the day in a metal-glass-house with no air conditioning whatsoever
  • home: 28°C (= 82 F) and no air conditioning, almost no cooling at night
Anybody out there with more?

sun protection
Cyclist in Jaipur, India -- around 43°C (= 109 F)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cycling between the fronts

Do you know people who cycle daily because cycling is their job? Who comes to your mind? I naturally always think about bike messengers, mailmen, rickshaw whallas and bicycle taxi drivers, newspaper deliverers, ice-cream sellers and that kind. Recently I also came across cycling policemen in Vienna.

But what about people in very rural areas? There are generally little paved streets and it's tough going. Countrymen use tractors and robust four-wheel drive. Sometimes, however, such vehicles are too big. The military, for example, uses bicycles to patrol at the Austrian border in Burgenland:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Discover your town!

Whenever I think about city-cycling I think about the German campaign Radlust which deals with the promotion of federal cycling traffic. The term "Radlust" could be translated to "the joy of cycling". The aim of the campaign was to -- literally speaking -- mobilize the unused potential of the bicycle in cities (nearly all households in Europe own at least one bicycle) by remembering their owners about the pleasure of movement:
>> If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. << (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Whenever I cycle on the weekend myself, try new bike routes or generally explore areas that I have never been to before by bicycle, I too feel this enthusiasm and pure joy of cycling. Last weekend was one of these occasions...

I put on my new stripy jersey dress, carried Paula up from the basement and set off for the unexpected. Also with me, a map printed from (useful Viennese-area route planner), sunglasses, a hat and some of my cameras.

panda with new dress

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The four of us out of town

A few days back Velouria (from Lovely Bicycle!), Jaqueline, Paula and me (anna) headed off for a day trip along the Danube. For not-so-regular readers of our blogs let me note that Jackie and Paula are not real human beings, but our dearest city bikes. Although lifeless they acquired the status of a good companion, and henceforth they shall be treated as such.

Initially we had only planned to cycle as far as Klosterneuburg, but continued along the Danube on the EuroVelo 6 route till Greifenstein. So all in all we cycled about 45 km (that is 28 miles).

Map of the tour [plotted using]

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cycling greenways and why it might become a habit

I am a utility cyclist. At least, I still like to consider myself as one. I hardly ever cycle "just for fun" or "because the weather is so nice". I cycle when it is the most efficient way of transport.

In fact, that's also why I don't cycle so much anymore. Since two months now I live only 5 min from work (by foot!) and a similar distance from the nearest grocery shop. What initially sounds great also has some side effects. I simply don't get enough exercise. Every day I feel less and less energetic and less efficient at work, but am more tired and more distracted with other things. Cycling from and to work was not just the perfect way of moving my butt, but also a good isolator between work and leisure. I am missing both of these positive effects, but am trying to replace them by something else now.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Radfahren in Wien -- a review of Vienna's new bicycle guide

"Radfahren in Wien" (Cycling in Vienna) is an extensive handbook with a lot of useful information about cycling. Although it is strongly related to Vienna, I can highly recommend it for a general German-speaking audience (in particular, if situated in Austria). This is, because it is an exhausting and wittily written, smart and neatly designed handbook on almost anything you ever wanted to know about cycling.

"Radfahren in Wien" by Alec Hager and Johannes Pepelnik

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bikes in commercial use

One rainy day a couple of weeks back I decided to overcome my shyness and went to the city center pretending to be a tourist. With my tiny pink Asian camera, I took photos of interesting bikes. Here's a few pics taken that day that are concerning commercial use of bikes.

You have to get an official permission for
outdoor advertising, and pay quite a lot of
money. Some creative small entrepreneurs
have figured out that it is allowed to lock
bikes almost everywhere...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Living trendy

I do all my grocery shopping on foot, because it's easier after work and very close to home. Thus I almost thought that I would not be able to complete the "Carry a load on your bike -- groceries, etc." task of the LGRAB Summer Games.

Well, it so happened that I had to go shopping for other purposes. I'm rather lazy when it comes to housework, and although our new couch is pretty nice it gets dusty quite easily. What to do?

For a while know I was tinkering with the idea of buying a fancy throw-over. Today I finally grabbed my "new look" bike bag and Paula and headed off to the 20th district with a mission.

Couch with "new look" Lilly

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A not so naked bike ride in Vienna

Yesterday, the time has come again. The time of the "bare as you dare" bike ride in Vienna. If you'd like to know the story behind it, you may read my comments and look at some pictures from last year. This year I went there on short notice straight after work. It was rather cold and the weather forecast not too promising. I did not bother to take a bikini with me because it was way too cold for me. Very few people, however, did. Brave. I hope they didn't catch a cold.

Cyclists at Schwarzenbergplatz

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Simple bicycles

I must admit, I do own a fancy and also expensive bicycle, but it's not that important. Of course, my Paula is a hell of a nice ride, but for simply getting from A to B I can do with almost anything. For example, I still use my old mountain bike for many trips, especially when the road conditions are not so good. Does one really need many gears and fancy equipment?

Well, all our bikes are nothing compared to bicycles in India. Indian bicycles are very simple. The vast majority is exceedingly old, heavy and single speed. There are no lights nor reflectors installed. The saddle as well as the carrier are huge and seem comfy and stable, respectively. The most beautiful piece of an Indian bicycle is the big shiny bicycle bell. Fantastic!

A typical Indian bicycle

Friday, June 11, 2010

Finnish cycling culture

People around the world have different attitudes towards cycling. The attitudes even vary within Europe. In some cultures cycling is a sport, in others it is a way to get around. Some people do it just for fun. There are also presumptions on who should ride a bike and who should not. I've been writing here more or less regularly since the last fall, and so far haven't gotten around to tell you about what cycling is and who ride a bike in my culture. So I'll tell you about that today.

Let me start with how common it is. This is the view from my front door.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A perfect match for the tiger bike!

A while ago Anna spotted a tiger bike in Vienna. She claimed that it's "the one and only" which is true, but there's another self-made "one and only" in my city! She's often sighted in the city center locked in street lights, trash cans or bike racks. So far I haven't been lucky enough to sight the owner of the bike, but one day I may stay hidden stalking the bike until I spot her ;)

I have difficulties determining the species of this one. It could be a hybrid of feline species such as tiger and leopard. If you have a theory, please let us know! So here it is: let me present the Safari Bike!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Crossing streets

This is my friend Alberto crossing a street in Vietnam. He told me that there are about 90% scooters in the modal split there, and that people even take them into shops etc. The noise level is very similar to Indian cities, however, there are already more cars in those places.

In Vienna, many streets have traffic lights. So crossing a street as a pedestrian (and often also cyclist) is done by the following procedure:
  • approach the junction
  • (press a button)
  • wait
  • wait
  • wait
  • cross
You're a poor guy/girl and have to cross once more? Too unfortunate. You'll have to wait again, because there are hardly any "diagonal" traffic lights. I don't know how there are called technically, but I mean those where you can use cross diagonally because all the vehicular traffic has a red light. In Austria (and most other European countries I know, apart from Ireland) motorists have green at the same time as pedestrians and cyclists on, e.g., a parallel segregated bike path. Of course, car drivers have to yield those, but sometimes there are dangerous situations, especially on bike paths that are somehow visually detached from the road. Be aware!

Many times on small roads I find that the traffic lights are not necessary because a) there is not much car traffic in the first place and b) pedestrians have green when most of the car traffic has too, anyhow.

In Vienna, there are a lot of traffic lights for cyclists. The seperate ones are pretty neat, as long as they are not "on demand" lights (it takes ages for them to turn green, and especially when I wear thick gloves in the winter, they are not so easy to use).

Two "on demand" traffic lights for cyclists in the 3rd district

However, most of the time cyclists' lights are included in the pedestrians' ones. This is a big disadvantage, because cyclists are much faster than pedestrians, and we could do with a much shorter clearing phase and hence a longer green phase (cyclists are actually much closer to "normal" traffic than to pedestrians). Especially on the Gürtel bike path, cyclists have a huge disadvantage due to these joint lights as well as due to turning cars -- we just miss the progressive signals at almost every junction, i.e. on average every 50-200 m. By the way, this is called "Grüne Welle" (green wave) in German. I like that term, but I would like it even more if it would refer to bike rather than car traffic.

How is it like in your town? Are there many traffic lights? Special ones for cyclists? Green waves for cyclists?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Self-made Sunday: paint the frame

You're right, today is not Sunday. But hey, I took these pictures on Sunday, so I hope it still counts. In fact, I even saw the motif on Saturday on my way to the grocery shop...

What? Well, a bicycle!
Nothing special, you say, you see bicycles every day?
Well, not this one!

This one is special because it is personalized. Here I present you the one and only tiger bike.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back on track

What a day! First day after me being sick on the bike again. You must know that I live very close to my work now (only 5 minutes by foot) and don't have to cycle there anymore, so I grap every opportunity to ride my bike to places elsewhere. Today these were, all at once:
  • my doctor
  • a bike shop
  • the Vienna University of Technology to meet a friend
Here's the story:

Setting off at home, I picked up Paula from the basement. There is a huge bike storage room in the house, but there are less stairs from our compartment in the basement to the street than from the bike storage room, so I keep my beloved there for the moment.

I even dressed up today (slightly).
Paula in the basement.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A short story about the back pedaling brake

Yesterday I saw a nice video clip about the pros and cons of a back pedaling brake (also known as coaster brake) in one of my favorite programs called Karambolage on my favorite tv channel Arte. Arte stands for Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne and is a quality European culture channel. They broadcast in German and French. Many of their own programs can also be viewed online on Unfortunately I could not find Karambolage. But the text of the clip (here in German and French, by Corinne Delvaux) and the pictures are available on their website. It roughly translates to the following:

Wir sind in Berlin. Das sieht man doch am Fernsehturm im Hintergrund, oder? Gut, dieser Herr ist Franzose und er freut sich, denn seine Berliner Freunde haben ihm ein Fahrrad geliehen, um die Stadt zu besichtigen. Super.

We are in Berlin. That's obvious because of the tv tower in the background, isn't it? Well, this gentleman is a Frenchman and he is happy that his Berlin friends lent him a bicycle for sightseeing. Great.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Watching the new neighborhood from above

I am sick these days and stuck in my house with a bad internet connection. So what should I do in a half-furnished flat apart from lying in bed? Well, let's have a look outside the window:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

FEEL FREE! -- Advertising cycling and why I still don't like E-bikes

Lately I have seen some billboards with bicycle ads. In fact, the don't advertise bicycles in the sense of bicycle brands, but cycling as such. There is, for example, the Citybike Wien ad which obviously aims at young people:

This picture is from an article by the Greens in Simmering.

In contrast, there is the Wien Energie ad about E-bikes:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Special spring cycling moments

You may remember my enthusiastic post about meeting friends while cycling and that being able to have a little chat with another cyclist at a red light is a great advantage of not being trapped in a car. Well, it's not entirely true that conversations with people in cars cannot happen (and I don't mean the common "Get out of my way" shouts). But see for yourself:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A new plus and a new minus in the 9th district

Since a few days I live in the 9th district in Vienna. Generally, it has a dense network of bicycle infrastructure -- a lot of bike racks and a lot of bike lanes. In fact, too many bike lanes. And some of the new ones in horrible positions: in the door zone, and on cobblestones. Who the hell plans something like that? Certainly not a regular cyclist... By the way, in Austria we have the law that any bicycle infrastructure available must be used, so on many such "bike lanes" I am forced to either ride illegal or unsafe.

On the other hand, I can also report something good.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Upcoming carfree conference and workshop in York

Last October at the "Mobility week workshop" in Budapest (you can read about my experiences in these articles) Sonja and I met a few young and enthusiatstic volunteers who work for the World Carfree Network in Prague, Czech Republic. That's also how I learned about some nice events they organize in York, England, in June and July. But before I will come to that, let my briefly introduce you to the WCN...