Bicycles, scooters and skateboards; emblems of the Nordic City Life

At the mention of the Nordics, what comes to the mind of many is a happy region, utopia of sorts. In fact those who care so much about material possessions will already start imagining themselves owning mansions and the latest model of cars just at the chance of moving to the Nordics. Such a person may wonder what the hell do we mean by bicycles, scooters and skateboards in the Nordics.

Hire and ride a scooter; lets all go green

Taking of these gadgets which dominate the streets of Nordic cities may sound an antidote to the many who attach happiness to mere possessions . But the reality is that the Nordic countries have redefined their sense of what makes them happy. Yes you will spot modern cars being driven on the roads and still see many people on bikes, skateboards and scooters all over. If you doubt this, just take a visit to Helsinki which is rated among the sustainable cities in the world and see how much non motorized transport has been well blended with cars, trams, trains, moped, and vehicles. 

Bicycles, Skateboards and Scooters form part of normal lifestyle in the Nordics

While commuting by bike, scooters, or skate boards might sound far-fetched, it’s the lifestyle in most Nordic cities. Scandinavia has earned a reputation globally for its thriving commuter bicycle culture. While most people might attribute it to the flat terrain and many bike racks, it’s way more than that. Ask any Scandinavian and they will go on and on about the benefits of their lifestyle. 

At this point, maybe a clear understanding of Janteloven may give an important guide. 

It also comes as no surprise that the Nordic region has some of the most liveable cities in the world. Walk around cities like Copenhagen and you will also notice that the riders range from kids, youths and even older people. As a foreign rider, you are probably accustomed to being a minority back home. However, the sight of many bicycles huddled together and chained to the public racks might be a pleasant surprise.  

Nordic Urban Planning to Accommodate non motorized transport 

The burning question on your mind must be how these cities can sustain this lifestyle. Well, it all stems from the Nordic region’s urban planning. These cities have a unique approach to urban planning that focuses on people in urban life. It prioritizes citizen empowerment, mobility, sustainability and the liveability of the cities.  It implies that planners here put the people at the centre of any planning concept. 

Riding on skateboards is a common spectacle in the Nordics
Sights of people riding on skateboards are common in the Nordics

Many global stakeholders have lauded Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and Helsinki for their quality of living. All these countries have adopted the Nordic urban planning model, which strives for a greener future. So, the many green spaces and the high mobility in Nordic urban cities should come as no surprise. Despite also heavily investing in public transport, Scandinavians are very accustomed to walking or cycling everywhere. 

The Scandinavian Cycling Culture 

In most countries, cycling and using scooters is left for the adventurous, young and fit population. It is also something you see once in a while during activities such as Bike to Work weeks. However, in Scandinavia, it’s a normal routine and the best way to get around whether to work or wherever. Some Scandinavians even consider it a part of their identity and a fundamental part of their life. 

Instead of finding vehicle traffic in large cities such as Copenhagen, you will find bicycle traffic slowly sailing by. Perhaps it’s the vast networks of segregated bike paths that fuel this vibrant bicycle culture. Or maybe it’s the people’s need to be part of the solution when it comes to climate change. Most researchers have suggested that the values and attitudes play a major role as opposed to abundant infrastructure.  

For instance, countries such as the United States have some of the best urban infrastructure in the world. Nevertheless, they don’t even come close to having a cycling culture as vibrant as in the Nordic region. This would suggest that psychological infrastructure is more critical than having urban resources. The people must be ready and willing to be part of the drive towards greener cities. 

Benefits of Commuting through Bicycles, Scooters, Skate Boards

The advantages of cycling to work or using a scooter and skateboards might not be that obvious to everyone. As a matter of fact, most people might view it as inconvenient and slower than other methods. However, you might be pleased to know that they are not only less costly but also less stressful to keep fit. Keep in mind that while vehicles might be convenient, they also come with maintenance requirements. 

Cycling will also give you better sleep while also reducing your levels of stress. Scandinavians acknowledge the ability of this culture to also improve their mental health. Maybe this is why countries like Denmark rank high in the world’s happiest countries. Denmark is also legendary for its partying, clubbing and drinking culture; cycling promotes social interaction.

Take your bike and lets go riding. It burns that extra calories and saves you money on fuel

The Nordic methods of commuting might be more appealing to individuals who are into the whole minimalist idea. Most Scandinavians prefer a simple and practical commuter bike to a fancy one. It speaks to the attitude of the cyclists while also demonstrating the equality portion of Nordic urban planning. In some countries, using public transport or cycling to work is reserved for individuals of a given class. 

You can also tell that Scandinavians are committed to their cycling lifestyle from how and when they ride. They ride all year round despite what the weather is like outside. And you know the Scandinavian weather isn’t the best. Nevertheless, Scandinavians won’t let the inconvenient weather stop them. So don’t be surprised to find people riding in the morning drizzle.  

Final Remarks about the non-motorised transport in the Nordics

In the Nordic region, bicycles, scooters, and skate boards are not only used for pleasure but also for commuting. Scandinavians will take these convenient modes of transport in all types of weather and at all times of day. It’s the one place in the world where people find it easier to commute by these three rather than by car. 

Nordic cities provide an extensive network of cycling lanes that have made the culture more mainstream. While most cities in the world experience car traffic, it’s the Nordic bike lanes that get crowded during rush hour. Furthermore, the culture is as old as the bicycle itself and only continues to take root.