Saturday, 3 November 2018

A Scandinavian Safari: Part 7 - Bikes, Lights & Little Trucks

This week, I'll bring my Scandinavian Safari series to a close with a blog post about some of the other things I saw on my trip this summer which didn't quite fit the rest of the posts.

Not all of the this things this week will be Scandinavian because the journey up was part of the fun with stays in Germany and the Netherlands and as you might expect, my camera was always hovering for a nerdy snap!

The Bikes
For my explorations in Malmö and Copenhagen, I made my first ever use of a bike hire scheme, where I used Donkey Republic. The dockless system has the cycles parked in geofenced 'hubs' (often public cycle racks) and once you have selected one and chosen the length of hire, a bluetooth lock gets you moving.


Donkey Republic's bikes have three hub-gears and even for tall people like me, they are very comfortable to ride. There is a front and rear rack and as well as the bluetooth wheel lock on the rear, there is a secondary chain which connects to it and which has a really clever holding pouch in the rear rack - all very useful if you want to nip into the shops!


The app and the payment system was really easy to use. If you ended up with a bike which needed some TLC (as I did in Copenhagen), you can find another one and swap using the app (with a reporting feature). It also had a smart phone holder which I used to hold my phone with maps running.


I was a big fan of the system and it meant that I didn't need to get a bike back to a hire shop (although in truth, I had left hire a bit late to organise anyway). 

There were other options (although I didn't try them). In Malmö, the city has Malmö by Bike (below) which is a docked system accessed by a smart card or ID/pin from a terminal giving hire for up to an hour.


In Copenhagen, there is another docked scheme, ByCyklen (below), which has e-assist cycles.


Copenhagen also has bikes available from the city's hotels which seems the perfect response to tourist demand to see the sights efficiently!


Meanwhile in Deventer (one of our stopover towns), the town centre car park operator had its own take on park and ride;


As you would expect in places where cycling has been enabled, there are plenty of other types of cycles being used. In Malmö, the postal service runs some high load capacity machines;


In addition, cycles are the vehicle of choice for deliveries as demonstrated by this well-known pizza company;


For one of our stopovers, we stayed about 30 miles from Hamburg and my son and I spent the day cycling along the River Elbe on very comfortable bikes - we needed them as it turned into a very long day as you can see from my Twitter thread from the day!


Of course, with so many practical machines being used, one kind of lets them become taken for granted and so the unusual does stand out such as these timber bikes spotted in Deventer and Utrecht;



As far as Denmark goes, there is a very famous attraction and of course, there is the odd bike to be seen;



And finally, you expect some cycle parking. Even in the less famous Swedish town of Ystad, there was plenty at the station!



Traffic Signals
No, not a long discussion on the technical points of European approaches, just a couple of the more unusual installations we saw. First, in Utrecht, the Rainbow Crossing is a bit of a tourist attraction in its own right, complete with Miffy signals!







Odense is the third largest city in Denmark and it is the home of Hans Christian Andersen. In celebration of this fact, someone has been messing about with the traffic signals;



In Copenhagen, a great addition to the pedestrian crossing push buttons is a little relief to help visually impaired people line up with the crossing direction. We could and should do this in the UK with very little effort;



City Vehicles
It's often the case that modern public service vehicles are simply too large to service historic places, but we stuff them in anyway. For when we can't do it all by bike (and nobody is suggesting we do), there is the option of appropriately sized vehicles. In Malmö, I saw a little electric maintenance van;


Vehicles of this size are perfect for when you need to carry a little more kit or stuff around, but where an 8-wheel truck is simply not appropriate. Over in Deventer, they have a little bus (Centrumbus) in the historic core. Although it's a very walkable town, the bus can give a little extra help to those who need it;



That's It!
Scandinavia was a blast, but as I said at the start of the series, please remember that the things I have written about come from a few days as a tourist, not someone who leaves and breathes the local engineering.

But, a highway engineer's adventures in time & space were fun over the summer and the journey continues. More than ever I can safely say the "the street is not too narrow, your imagination is too narrow", but seeing how it's done elsewhere can broaden one's imagination!



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