travel & transport

Bicycling, slow travel, public transport, local travel & nature.

We don't own cars or even driver's licenses. We avoid flying. Yet we still sometimes travel, and go to places every day.

We recommend bicycling to everyone for whom it is possible.

Helsinki city bikes

Closeup of Daniel's body riding a yellow city bike

A few days ago we were on our way to meet some small wild animals on an island, and before we were even halfway there, my front tyre exploded. It didn’t just go flat, the inner tube ripped open several inches and the outer tyre fell off. Not wanting to stop the trip I decided to take a city bike. They are very easy to use, you can register and buy time online. The whole summer (until October) is just 25 euros, a week is 10 euros and a day 5 euros, and you can use the bikes as much as you want during those times. The instructions make it sound like you should use a credit card but I don’t have one and used Visa Electron successfully.

 

Daniel's happy face and upper body while riding a bike in the woods

But there is a catch. You can only use the same bike for 30 minutes at a time or you have to pay extra. For me this was not enough time at all. But they are convenient for short rides. You don’t have to store or maintain them yourself, and with their low frame and loose feeling gears they are easy to mount and ride even if you are not a very accustomed cyclist. The height of the saddle is easy to adjust without any tools or force. They also have a basket with an attached bungee cord which is super convenient. But the bikes are quite ugly, being sponsored by a grocery store chain, and having a design that looks more like a cheap toy than a classic utility bike.

 

Daniel riding a city bike in the woods in the distance

All in all they are a great option if you are just visiting the city or don’t own a bike, but also as a backup for local cyclists. No need for a second bike or a bus ride even if your bike is in the shop for some sunny summer days.

You can register to become a user here.

 

Ps. The bike took me where I wanted to go and we met some squirrels and birds and it was awesome.

Daniel feeding a great tit (parus major).

Daniel feeding a squirrel and wearing his all black uniform.

Daniel

second hand bicycles

White drop handlebar bicycle

Bicycles are a great thing to get second hand, for they are very durable and repairable, and often very classic in design.

Amir has a second hand Rossin road bike, bought online in 2011. It has curly drop handlebars and great small details like the beautifully designed shifters. He had the originally purple frame painted white when the bicycle was undergoing full maintenance and was taken completely apart. He spent some time deciding the exact shade of white, and ended up with a rather bright white. The silky matt coat of paint has endured well, with only some tiny chipping near the seat post. The bike is fast and light and is great for spring, summer and autumn, but sadly can’t fit winter tires. Amir is considering purchasing a second bike for winter use.

 

Black simple Pelago Bristol bicycle

Daniel found his second hand Pelago Bristol online two years ago and since then has ridden it almost every day, even through the winter. It has been one of the most useful and beautiful things he has ever owned. It is a classic gentleman style utility bicycle, heavier and slower than Amir’s road bike, but fits winter tires and is sturdy and stylish in an old fashioned kind of way. It has only one gear and not a lot of other extras either, which makes it easier to maintain, for there are less parts that can break.

 

Amir's bike in front of pink peonies

When Daniel was still looking for his bike we read some articles about choosing a bicycle, and they gave us a feeling that most bicycles are very specialized, and only good for certain things. We’ve since found out this is not completely true. While a folding bike is easier to take on a train, and a cargo bike easier to carry heavy things with, most bikes are good for most situations. We have carried loads and taken a bit longer trips on both of our bikes, they’ve been carried on stairs and taken with us on trains, and we’ve also pedaled them slowly in the city center. Sleek road bikes can go slow and sturdy city bikes can travel far.

So buy whichever you like. For us, aesthetic appeal has been one of the biggest reasons to choose the bikes we did. This might sound very silly for something as functional and essential as a daily transportation device, but we see beauty as a part of an object’s functionality. If something is ugly to you, it is not very functional either, because you might not enjoy using it, or have positive feelings toward it and want to repair it, but instead are just waiting to replace it. Riding a beautiful bike also makes us feel more stylish.

 

pink peonies

Feeling pretty is of course not the only benefit of bicycling. It also makes us feel good about our bodies, being able to move using our own muscles and energy. We also see places, plants and animals, often taking routes through woods and by fields. Bicycling is healthy, stylish, ecological, affordable, and enjoyable.

You can find second hand bicycles from your local used sports equipment shops or recycling centers, or anywhere online where people sell their used belongings. Our recommendation for people in the Helsinki area is Kierrätyskeskus.