City & Commuting

Helsinki Commuting – Monday advice

5 Comments 09 May 2011

It’s great to see that every spring there are more bikers on the streets here in Helsinki. People seem to invest in better bikes, they are creative in tuning their old ones and they are going for weekend rides outside of the city. This year only seems to confirm the trend so fare.

However, with all that enthusiasm around us, there are a few important side remarks to be made as to not bruise those legs or damage that good looking bike. After observing the 3 situations below for a few weeks and encountering all of them this morning in a 3k commute we thought it was time for a Comingthru reminder

be nice to your fellow bike(ste)rs on that bikelane! ©tulenheimo

  • If you want to race that roadracing or cyclocross bike take it outside the city! Going faster than 25k/h on the bike-lanes in the Helsinki city center is sheer stupidity and is endangering your fellow bikers. Not all of them are as stable or focused on a bike.
  • Bike-lanes and sidewalks are combined in one lane in many places only separated by one row of small cobblestones. If no pedestrians are around you can use the sidewalk area to create space for bike-traffic coming from the opposite direction instead of forcing other two-wheel enthousiasts to brake and slow down. It’s just common sense – the “rules” are not that strict.
  • When at work (or any other public space) you are not attaching your bike to the bikerack for security reasons and you have a bike mount don’t use the bikerack at all, park it next to the rack. Plenty of people don’t have a bike mount and do want to attach their bikes somewhere.

In the meanwhile happy biking in Helsinki and all around the world – it’s gonna be a great spring!

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Maarten is an avid road and mountain biker who lives and breathes everything rolling on two wheels. You can follow his rantings on Twitter by looking for @maapathel.

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  • I would add : raise your arm when you are about to turn or at least, have a look behind to be sure that you won’t cross the path of someone riding faster than you. Got some bruises recently because of that…

  • AMEN! Particularly on the speed issue. If you’re on the road with the cars, it feels more natural to keep up with their pace, but when the bike lane is right next to pedestrians, have a heart. We all make the pedestrian-in-bike-lane mistake a few times every summer (I’ve noticed that if I bike a lot, I occasionally find myself walking in the bike lane because I’ve forgotten I’m not surgically attached to my wheels) and I think all anybody deserves is a reminder, not a road rage tirade.

  • Michiel

    Yes, yes, yes…. I get very annoyed when cyclists refuse to temporarily use the pedestrians lane, even when there is no pedestrian in sight and it would make everyones lives easier. Unfortunately, cycling Finns then to obey the letter of the rule, rather than its spirit.

    Three more tips:

    1) Use your bell! Or make some other noise to let slower traffic (other cyclists and pedestrians) know you’re coming up from behind them. I try to anticipate what pedestrians will do (e.g. when they will cross the bike lane without looking around) and give them a fair warning. Nine times out of ten, they will hear me well in advance and I don’t have to hit the brakes. Only exeptions is people walking their dogs. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason they are just too stupid to be allowed on the streets.

    2) Be assertive towards car-drivers. When you have the way of right, make eye-contact with the driver and don’t slow down. Of course, you will want to make sure you can still brake before the crossing, in case the car-driver is blind, drunk or both. Thing is, if you start to slow down too soon, you are inviting them to treat you like a pedestrian. And let’s be honest here, folks… what kind of cyclist wants to be treated like a pedestrian.


  • Michiel

    Oh, third tip. Don’t wear a helmet. It makes you look too professional and safe. Research shows cars leave more space for and are more careful towards cyclists that look a bit …. “unsafe”. It’s all a matter of perception.

  • Hugo

    Heh, I’ve been cycling to work for the past year (and two weeks :), and also find myself walking in the bike lane!


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Coming Thru (or Coming Through - as that URL was taken) is a daily updated bike magazine - a collection of writings and links that relate to biking in its every form. The idea started from when Maarten met Markus decided to finally start collecting the things we like about bikes and talk about our everyday adventures in dodging moving objects at high speeds.The site is run by a collage of cyclists, most notably by Canadian Johanna MacDonald, Belgian Maarten Patteeuw and Finnish Markus Sandelin.

It all started in the spring of 2010, after a record breaking snowy winter when Markus bought a house 25 kilometers from the office and decided to handle the commuting with a bicycle. It turned out the bike wasn’t up to standards for that kind of stress and the first weeks were more tragicomic than glorious. Thus the idea began to brew to actually document this journey.

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