Tag archives for transports

Bikes, bikes, bikes in Alingsås

Tilda Dahl giving her grandfather a ride in a box bike. Photo: Ylva Lundin.

I know everyone’s not as bicycle fanatic as I am, but who wouldn’t love a bicycle day?
In the town where I grew up, Alingsås, the local Transition Group spent last Sunday (which also happened to be Mother’s Day in Sweden) celebrating bikes in all their forms and shapes in one of Alingsås’ parks where this group also has a community garden.

People could try different kinds of bikes, like a box bike, an electric bike, a unicycle ( a bike with only one wheel) and a tandem. A bicycle repair shop was also there, doing basic bike service for free.

Do you dare to calculate the true costs of your car? Photo: Tilda Dahl.

Another fun thing was a service where people could get help to calculate the real cost of their car. Using a graphic that we have already published in Effekt, the Transition Group not only counted what people pay for petrol and parking, but also insurance, tyres, services, taxes etc. According to Ylva Lundin from the group, not everyone was as eager to listen to the answers…

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What has to go in crowded Stockholm? The cars!

Since we don't have 45 meter broad streets in Stockholm ... something else must be changed. Illustration: City of Stockholm, Britt-Marie Alvin.

Many of my friends who have come to Stockholm from other parts of the world start laughing when I complain about the traffic here. OK, the morning congestions in central parts of town might not be much in comparison to Paris, Barcelona, Mexico City or New Delhi… but cycling through the streets of Stockholm you still get the feeling that there’s just not space enough for you and your bike, while there’s quite a lot of space for the cars. And according to a new survey, Stockholm is the Nordic city that suffers most from traffic jams. Read more » >>

New rules for the beloved bike?

bike-jamNot only ordinary traffic jams, but also cycle jams are becoming a more common sight in central Stockholm. Photo: Anders Adermark (CC BY-NC-ND)

cycle-program-in-Gothenburg

Cycles waiting to be used in Gothenburg. Photo: Sara Jeswani.

Cycling isn’t something just for students and environmentalists anymore. During the last few years cycling has grown, filled Swedish streets and become a must-have even for trendy citydwellers.
For those who haven’t got their own bike, there are city-sponsored bicycle-programs in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Lund .
In Stockholm you can use the bike for three hours, before having to return it to one of the stations. In Gothenburg you can have your bike for 30 minutes at a time. Lund’s program allows you to rent a bike up to one week.

Cycling has also gone from being “just” a leisure thing to a daily transport vehicle for many people. In Stockholm the amount of cyclists have more than doubled in 15 years and now about 50 000 cyclists use the city’s streets every day. This is great in many ways, but also leads to new dilemmas. Suddenly there isn’t room foreveryone, since roads are mainly planned for car traffic.

This has lead to new ideas. Recently local politicians suggested cyclists in Stockholm should have the right to jump the red lights in right-hand turns or cycle both ways on one-way streets, in order to make the traffic flow better. Some, like the cyclists’ organisation Cykelfrämjandet, are very positive to these ideas, while others (mainly car drivers?) mean that having the right to skip certain laws only would make cyclists even more anarchist than today…

In June, Gothenburg had its own bicycle festival for all kinds of bike enthusiasts. Watch this film from the event, with interviews in both Swedish and English:

More about this in Swedish media (in Swedish):
Not more accidents despite more cyclists
Not enough bicycle tracks
The police is critical against letting cyclist jump the red lights

Please don’t travel with us!

I must admit my first reaction when I read about “Oresebyrån” (the Non-travel agency) was that I must have misread the text. Why start a travel agency of you don’t want people to travel? But the name is of course a very well chosen one, since the idea is to avoid travelling by using video and sound technology instead.

travel-free healthcare meeting

A health care meeting, the travel-free way. Photo: Bert-Ola Ekh.

Bengt Grahn, who is CEO at Oresebyrån, grew up in the province of Norrbotten, which actually covers a fourth of Sweden but is very sparsely populated. Here you might have to travel tens of kilometers to meet, dance, shop or go to school, so it was an ideal place to start convincing people that there are other ways of having business metings than transporting your body there.

According to Bengt Grahn it hasn’t always been easy, though. Changing human habits and a firmly rooted travel culture isn’t obvious. But travel-free meetings have become more common. At the Centre for Sustainable Communications, scientists are now trying to find out how to facilitate these kinds of meetings.

Obviously there are times when people cannot avoid travelling, or prefer meeting face to face. But there are also instances when a lot of waiting and transportation time could be avoided. According to the Swedish Transport Administration business trips stand for about 10 percent of the total travelling in Sweden. If more of those trips were substituted with virtual meetings, it could lead to reduced pollution, and also a better balance between work and private life.

For example the telecom company Telia Sonera reduced their business trips by flight with 56 percent between 2001 and 2007, and the travelling with different kinds of cars by 50 percent. At the same time the employees used phone conferences 200 percent more than before – and the company saved about 130 million Swedish kronor (more than 21 million USD) on travel-related costs.

At Effekt, the climate change and sustainability magazine I make with a group of colleagues, we have used this kind of technology a few times, when arranging seminars with interesting experts from the UK. Considering costs, time and emissions from having the person coming to Sweden, we have chosen to let him or her speak on a video link instead. Of course you can’t really compare it to having a person of flesh and blood standing in front of you, but I must say it’s not far from it. People could ask questions and discuss with the speaker, who could go right back to his kids after the seminar. Almost like teleportation.

video-seminar

Another one of Effekt's video seminars.

The flying dilemma

train-heart

Graffiti on the train window between Gothenburg and Stockholm a couple of days ago.

Transports cause about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in Sweden. Jonas Åkerman is researcher at the Royal Institute of Technology KTH. In his doctor’s dissertation he has analysed what needs to be done if Sweden shall reach its long term environmental goals.

The one type of traffichaving the most remarkable development now is aviation. In 2006 Swedish aviation emitted 8,7 million tons of CO2 equivalents. This is to be compared to the 12,5 million tons coming from all the private cars of Sweden during the same year.

Since 1980 the international traffic to and from Sweden has increased with 300 percent, and many of these trips go further away than before. According to Jonas Åkerman this has to change. Otherwise emissions from aviation will be even bigger than emissions from car traffic in less than 10 years, he explains to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

One reason to why aviation has been able to grow so fast is that airplane fuel for international traffic is free from climate taxes and VAT. The emissions dont count in any countries’ statistics of greenhouse gas emissions.

In order to reach the climate goals a lot of actions are needed, some more painful than others, states Jonas Åkerman. For example travelling by air and car must be reduced and more goods has to be transported by railway.

So what will happen to Swedish holidays? As I have mentioned earlier going to Thailand and other remotes places is something of a Swedish darling. On the other hand habits can change faster than we think. For example it wasn’t that long ago that ”everyone” went Interrailing around Europe and flying was considered a luxury.

Personally I’ve already started planning this year’s big trip: Crossing Europe for a wedding in Athens this summer. And I can’t think of a better way of going there than by train. Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and all the other countries inbetween… I can’t wait.