Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Daily Commute

I have been commuting into Halmstad, (the nearest city to us…Sweden’s 20th largest city by population) for a month now to attend SFI classes. That is, Swedish language classes for immigrants. The commute is about 20km each way, which makes it a perfect leg stretcher on the bike and also a prime opportunity for me to see how good cycling in Sweden is.

During my first week, I cycled on the main road leading from Simlångsdalen to Halmstad (E25), this does not have a separate cycle path, but does have amazingly smooth tarmac and is joyously pot-hole free! So, for the first week I whizzed along with the occasional car and lorry passing me, thinking how could this get any better.

It was during the second week that I hit gold! There is a an old railway track that used to connect Halmstad to Bolmen with a station stop in Simlångsdalen. This ceased to operate in 1966 and conveniently was turned in a cycle path and pedestrian walkway. So, I tried this alternative route and for over 15km the only other living souls I encountered were 9 cows chewing the early morning cud! Bliss! Being an old railway track also means that there are no sharp gradients, it runs pretty straight and because in Sweden, pot-hole free. Needless to say, I haven’t looked back.

But, there is a tiny problem. Halmstad is in the process of upgrading this sublime cycle path, so a 3km section is closed! At this point one has to return to the main road (E25) and then jump back on the cycle path closer to Halmstad. This work is due to finish in April 2016, so for now I make do with sharing the smooth tarmac with a car or two for 3km!

Once in Halmstad, cycling is easy too, as you follow the network of cycle paths and when you have to cross over a road, cars must give way to you…perfect! It is a huge contrast to cycling around central London, but then the population of Halmstad is one-third of the population of the Borough of Islington, our old cycling haunt, so I guess the comparison isn’t completely fair. But, as everyone says, the Scandis have cycling cracked!

You can see my route on my strava feed, here.

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