Tag archives for Malmö

Cycle commuters in Malmö don’t need to come to work sweaty

The Bike and ride cycle parking in Malmö. Photo: Bike and ride.

On my way down to Berlin recently, I spent a few hours in Malmö waiting for the night train. Now Malmö isn’t only one of the cities in the Swedish forefront of urban gardening and with a bike kitchen that I envy them. Malmö is also a good place for those who commute by bicycle and train.

In the southern part of the city, just above the railway tracks of the train station Hyllie (which is also the last one on the Swedish side before the train crosses the border to Denmark), you can find Malmö’s (and maybe Sweden’s?) first “Bike and Ride”.

This is a staffed centre where people can leave their bikes in safe custody while they are at work. And there are a lot of people going this way to work every morning. According to the region of Skåne, there were about 20000 persons commuting between Copenhagen and Malmö already in 2009, and almost half of them by train.
Today I reckon they are even more.

It’s free of charge to park your bike here, and there are also a place where you can clean your bike, pump the tyres and make simpler repairing work. For those who want to switch between their cyclist personality and a slick office outfit, there are also showers and lockers for helmets and rain clothes.

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What do Malmö and New York have in common?

Left: Hassan Jasem and Faiza Sirhan with their grandchildren in the outskirts of Malmö, about to dig up their vegetable garden. Right: Elisabeth Bee Ayers, one of the driving forces at BK Farmyards in Brooklyn, New York, a network that links people with cultivable land and no time with people who don't have any land but are longing to put their hands in the soil. Photos: Christian Jimenez.

It might seem like a strange question. Malmö, a city of about 300.000 inhabitants in the South of Sweden – and New York, with a population of more than 8 millions (not that far from the total population of Sweden!!).

But when the Swedish journalist Johanna G Jimenez and the photographer Christian Jimenez, born and brought up in New York, took a closer look, they realized that Malmö’s oldest urban community garden had it’s roots in the American big city.

Slottsträdgården in Malmö. Photo: Christian Jimenez.

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Sweden’s first “cycle superhighway” on its way

Imagine this… but four times broader. Photo: Veronicasverkstad (CC: BY, NC, SA)

Maybe it isn’t strange that the region that might get Sweden’s first “cycling highway” is in Skåne [map], one of the country’s flattest parts. Places like the student metropolis Lund is already known as something of a cyclist’s favourite. But now there are plans of linking Lund with the neighbouring city of Malmö, by a four-lane straight bike highway without intersections – and with wind protections, since a flat landscape also means a lot of wind.

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Cooking bikes in Malmö

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The repair shop, situated in an old ship-building site in Malmö.

A few days ago I stumbled upon a piece of news that I would say is the best I’ve heard this week. Ever since the snow started to melt and I took my bike out from its winter sleep, I’ve been dreaming about a place where I could learn how to fix my bike. Standing alone in the bicycle room of my block of flats, lacking the right tools or not knowing how to fix a simple gear problem just isn’t that fun.

On Tuesday I realised there is actually a place like this, that just opened in Malmö [map]: A bicycle kitchen, or Cykelköket as it’s called in Swedish.
Cykelköket in Stapelbäddsparken is a fully equipped bicycle repair shop, where anyone can come and fix their bike for free.

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Bertil Björk at an outside repair session.

Finding that my dream already existed in reality, I get all excited and call Bertil Björk, who is the bike kitchen founder. He tells me he got the idea from Los Angeles, where the first place like this once started, and then the idea was later spread to many other countries.
– Malmö is a great city to cycle in, since it’s flat and has a good infrastructure with lots of bike lanes and a planning which prioritizes bicycles instead of cars, he says.
At Cykelköket you can’t buy a bike, and you can’t pay someone else to fix your bike either. The aim is to raise the status of bikes and cycling, to improve public health and the environment, and also to encourage more girls and women to come to the repair shop.

Early in the process the project got a starting grant from the local environment adminsitration, which gave them the courage to go for it. But although money is needed in order to found something like this, what’s maybe even more important is volunteers willing to run it, says Bertil Björk.
– The social aspect of it is an enormously important part. We don’t want this to be “just” a repair shop with experts. Instead people should learn from each other. If I know how to fix a puncture I can show someone else.

In addition to fixing bikes and arranging workshops, Cykelköket will also cooperate with landlords, so that they can donate abandoned bicycles found on their premises to the repair shop. Then those who need a new back wheel or want to create a whole new vehicle can get parts for free.
– That’s almost the most fun part of it all, to get these abandoned bikes and give them new owners, says Bertil Björk.

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More gender balance at the repair shop is another great aim of the project.

Collecting waste with pure horsepowers

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Collecting garbage in Malmö with renewable energy. Photo: Gugge Zelander.

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I'd say this garbage collector is far more popular than a big lorry. Photo: Gugge Zelander

When the issues of climate change and Peak Oil are brought up, the reaction you get will sometimes be “Well, how should we live, then? Should we go back to horse carriages??” implying that nothing could be worse.
Horses are perhaps no substitute for the millions of cars we use today, but in some places they have actually proved to be even better than cars.

Earlier I have written about horse-powered lawnmowers on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm. Now I’ve just read a very sweet story in the magazine Vårt Malmö (in Swedish), produced by the City of Malmö for its inabitants. The article describes how the housing company MKB in Malmö [map] has started to collect the waste in the area of Holma with the help of horses.

Holma is a “million programme” created in the 1970:s where the idea that those living in the neighbourhood should take part in the responsability for cleaning staircases and planning inner yards.
The areas between the houses are full of narrow paths for walking and cycling, which makes it difficult for the big garbage collection lorries to enter. So when the city of Malmö demanded that these lorries were substituted with smaller ones, MKB chose to go one step further.

– A horse with a carriage is climate friendly, a calming feature in the urban environment and the horse becomes a popular element in everyday life, creating a meeting point for people, says the head of properties at MKB to the Vårt Malmö magazine.

The people living in the neighbourhood seems to appreciate the horse too, and the carriage driver Ivan Varga says he engage the children in picking small litter from the ground. After helping out a bit they get to caress the horse.

In a society where many kids have very little contact with nature and animals this is definitely something of great value. So… maybe it’s not that bad after all with a few old-fashioned horses?

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Children helping out. Photo: Gugge Zelander.