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.
Those blue sheds are bike racks. And the view from my window on the other side of the building is pretty much the same. Cycling is very common among students because it is practically free once you've bought a bike, and it is falso faster than buses. The city's cycling infrastructure is rather good, and it is safe to ride a bike here for anyone, even children ride a bike to school. A few days back I sighted a mother riding a bike with 4 kids; two of them riding their own bikes and 2 in a carriage pulled by the mother. The kid in the next pic is on a Saturday ride with her father.
Also the elderly like to ride a bike. I've seen this lady cycling about 5 km away from the city center, so she's very fit for her age.
Many people, including me, do their shopping by bike. This is one of the bike racks of a local car market. Actually, the market is only 2 km from the city center and surrounded by bike lanes, so it is very easily approachable by bike. It has become the favorite car market for many cyclists.
Many elderly ladies like to do their shopping there.
Men cycle just as much as women, and its not a matter of age or shape either.
Actually, many bums and boozers also ride bikes. They seem to prefer ladies' bikes, probably because they are easier to mount when your coordination isn't just right. We Finns have a habit of drinking beer in parks and river banks. This gives the poor an opportunity to make good money by collecting empty bottles without having to humiliate themselves by begging. Many of these “recycling professionals” ride bikes, because it is easy to load the heavy bottles on them. They prefer ladies' bikes too, probably because it cannot be easy to mount a men's bike with a big load.
So, cycling in Finland is not a hobby or way of life; it is simply a good way of getting around for ordinary people. Cycling Finns don't usually identify as cyclists because cycling is nothing special here. However, I dare to say that it is not merely a matter of practicality: it is very enjoyable to choose a nice and cool bike ride to the city center instead of a sweaty bus in a hot summer day. I take the joy of life out of the small everyday things, and a warm summer breeze on my cheeks as the wheels gently roll on the pavement is one of them.