Reinventing the wheel

10 October 2008 · 0 comments

in General Commentary, International

I have been in Sweden for a week and have enjoyed observing and absorbing a new culture. 7 years ago I attended an outdoor learning course. This involved being whisked off into the forests and lakes of Öster Götland with another 20 participants from all over Europe. We had an amazing time exploring meadows, forests, caves and canoeing the lakes. However I didn’t get the opportunity to see Swedish people going about their daily business.

Firstly lots of people are cycling. Every pavement has a cycle path. I’ve only seen one person with a cycle helmet and no-one in lycra shorts and tops. People wear their ordinary clothes. It’s also amazing to see what is being carried along. The best example was a joiner calmly cycle by with two large planks of wood sticking out at the front and back and several tool boxes on his rack.

I’ve spotted high school students out and about during school hours. At first I panicked wondering whether playing truant was a new Swedish fashion. I was gladly mistaken. A teacher explained it was a quick way of getting to the woods for an orienteering session.

All this cycling hits my heart. A Verucca Salt emotion seeps into me as I feel I’m missing out on the action. I want a go too. I want to have an old bike to get around. I want. I want. I want…

I want to see more children cycling around in Scotland. Last year my class had a trip by public transport into the centre of Aberdeen. It cost more than £60 for the return fare for the 25 children and 4 adults. The entire journey was less than four miles and the time taken to cycle would have been marginally longer. The £60 saved would have doubled the art budget in some schools.

I know riding a bike can be a risky business in a Scottish city. But it can be done safely. Lots of high visibility vests, helmets, seeking advice from the police in terms of management, using cycle paths and walking in parts. My mind is spinning with possibilities here as the wheels of thought revolve around my head.

More Swedish insights to follow.

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