Sunday, July 09, 2006

On yer Bike

Considering Oslo is such a hilly city with dreadful roads an amazing number of people use bikes to get about. The combination of cobbles, tramlines and potholes you could lose a bus in makes for a cycling hell! Oh, and then there are the kamakasi drivers. Not surprisingly most folk use mountain bikes but there are still quite a few of those "Alo Alo" sit up and beg jobs around. One of the major downsides of this throng of two wheeled demons and dodgy road conditions is that cyclists seem to think that pavements and pedestrian areas provide a much smoother and traffic free alternative to the roads. This despite a serious effort on the part of the authorities to provide cycle lanes on many roads. It is a frightening experience having bikes flashing by on both sides whilst taking a leisurely walk. The river walk path is particularly hazardous. What ever happened to bells? Although someone told me that if the cyclists use a bell to warn of their approach they get even more abuse from the pedestrians!

The Oslo city kindly operates a public bike service. There are over a 1000 of them parked in special racks around the city and the outskirts. You need a special card to use them, this is available from tourist info centres, metro and railway stations. They cost 60 Kr (5GBP) for 24 hours but you need to leave a 500 Kr deposit. The main users of these bikes seem to be the local druggie/wino population, which is considerable. If you are going to hire one I would suggest you invest in a good lock and chain.

You can not help but notice the number of derelict bikes around the city.They range from brand new top of the range jobs which someone has obviously worked over with an allen key and a spanner, to the poor buggers who have obviously lost the key to the security lock, then there are those who have suffered some dreadful accident. I suspect others have belong to drunks who have forgotten where they parked them.

Here photographs of just a few I found on an afternoons walk:-

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