A 30 minute train ride from the centre of Copenhagen drops you in the Centre of Malmo, Sweden, across the other side of the Oresund Strait. Malmo is another city that has been recognized for its cycling infrastructure. Lets see how it compares during a short walkabout.
To get from Copenhagen to Malmo, you cross the Oresund Strait on a combination of bridge and tunnel. The bridge runs nearly 8 kilometres from the Swedish coast to an artificial island in the middle of the strait. The crossing is completed by the 4-kilometre tunnel which I believe was required as a bridge would have been too high and interfered with Copenhagen airports airspace. Pretty impressive engineering!
Crossing the bridge, you can see wind farms out in the strait...
From wikipedia... Malmo was one of the earliest and most industrialized towns of Scandinavia, but struggled with the adaptation to post-industrialism. Since the construction of the Oresund Bridge, which opened in 2000, Malmo has undergone a major transformation with architectural developments, and it has attracted new biotech, IT companies, and students through Malmo University... a good example of infrastructure spurring the economy.
I guess the first impression coming out of the train station was where are the bike facilities? First you must exit through the bus loop and then cross the canal to get into the centre.
I’d heard this city was similarly progressive with regard to cycling. We had to walk a bit to come across the first ones, albeit, we were walking through mostly pedestrianized streets, so no real need there...
As we walked a bit further, the first bike lane/path/track we came across was the one at the top of the page, a cobbled raised bike lane! As we walked around more we came across some more conventional protected bike infrastructure. Some seems retrofitted, but in the redeveloped areas it seems bike facilities were a high priority and are placed away from traffic separated by a boulevard, some examples are provided below.
Second impression... their approach to bike parking seems very similar to Copenhagen, that is freestanding and locked rear wheel only. I speculated previously that perhaps the social benefits of Denmark or the fact most own bikes already were what reduced bike theft. But Malmo seems... what's the polite way of saying this... less middle class, blowing those theories out of the water. I wonder how bike thefts compare here v Copenhagen.
Malmo also has a bike share, which looks very similar to that in Barcelona, with bikes with small front wheels and similar racks. We didn’t have time to try these out. I'm not even sure if we could have, as in Barcelona it was resident only.
Wandering around a store, I did a double take when I saw cyclist airbags for sale. I’ve seen these somewhere online before, but not sure I knew they were actually available for purchase. After leaving the store, I realized a number of people riding around were using them.
Does it work? Based on their promotional videos, it seems to. Is it required in a city with safe cycling infrastructure? In my mind no, but at the same time, everyone is allowed to wear what they want to feel safe on a bike. If an inflatable airbag helmet gets more people riding, its not a bad thing.
Having said that there is no need for a helmet when you have safe bike infrastructure, the problem, even with separated and protected infrastructure, are conflict points. You can have safe protected bike paths, but at some point they must cross the road. As we were walking back to central station, we heard a great bang from behind, turned around to see a girl and her bike lying on the ground. I didn't see it happen so won't speculate on who was at fault, but it’s a sobering reminder of the dangers of cycling even where good infrastructure is provided.