I love how so many people use bicycles in Sweden as a central form of transportation. Although I have always owned a bike, I can’t say that I have ever used it seriously as transportation. Now that I have moved to Sweden and don’t own a car, I am even more interested in this bike-riding culture.
I recently inherited (well, long term borrowed) an old 3-speed bike from my friends. They had an extra bike that used to belong to Helen’s mother who is now an old person’s home. It’s a women’s bike, bright orange with a rack on the back. It’s the kind of bike that I wouldn’t have been caught dead riding back home in Northern California where everyone rides a souped-up mountain bike even if they are just going on asphalt to the local 7-11. But this bike is perfect. It has the requisite bell for letting people know you are approaching from behind on the bike/walking path. It has a sticker that says it was made in Sweden and is of “Sweden quality.” You don’t get too many things that say that, it’s more likely to say it was “designed in Sweden” which means it was made somewhere else. The bike has a full chain guard and long tire fenders—perfect for when protecting pant legs from chain grease and muddy conditions.
I filled the neglected bike’s tires, oiled the chain, tightened the gear changer on the handlebars, and adjusted the chain guard so it would stop rubbing against one pedal. Then I took her for a spin. Not bad for an old lady’s bike. Not bad for an old lady. I was ready to ride to Uppsala for Walpurgis (Valborgsmässoafton).
But no sooner did I get the bike all ready for my trip to Uppsala, then I read that more bikes are stolen in the Spring in Sweden than any other time of the year. Last year, 65, 000 people in Sweden reported a stolen bicycle. And the day that the most bikes are stolen is on Walpurgis when there are twice as many bicycle theft as any other day.
Oh no! I can’t get my friend’s mother’s bike stolen! The good news is that bicycle thefts actually decreased during the last ten years, according to 8 Sidor (25 april 2012)
And since we’re on the subject of statistics in Sweden, 8 Sidor had some more interesting facts and figures this week as well. Did you know that the 15th of April is currently Sweden’s most common birth day? In other words, more Swedes are born on this day than any other. Second place goes to the 22nd of March and the 10th of April. When I mentioned these statistics over lunch at work, all my Swedish peers knowingly nodded and said something along the lines of, “Well March 22 is obviously a Mid-Summer celebration thing and the other dates are due to summer holidays.”
But this does not explain why it appears that in the future, summer will have the most Swedish birthdays instead of Spring. Throughout the 2000s, the most Swedish children were born in July. Last year, according to 8 Sidor, the most children were born on the 8th of June.
Hmmmm…wonder how they’ll explain that away at work?