Betty Laurincova – Stockholm (Sweden)
How would you define yourself as a cyclist?
B: I would say I am mostly commuter and recreational enthusiast. Most of my rides are destination focused, either a longer trip or running errands around town.
How many bikes do you own?
B: Three and a half In Stockholm I have one all-round singlespeed I use every day and then Cannondale cross bike for weekend or afterwork fun rides. In Bratislava I have one singlespeed to get me around town and the half is my old old mountain bike I occasionally use at my parents country house in a forest.
Approx. how many Km’s do you cover per week?
B: When I don’t go for a specific longer weekend ride (and it’s winter now so I don’t) it is about 90 km of commuting.
Would you consider yourself as having basic mechanical knowledge?
B: Basic, yes. Especially on my singlespeed bikes I manage to do simple in terrain fixes or changes. I made many good friends in the bike community who are there to help when I struggle and help me learn every time something goes wrong.
What does the bicycle symbolize for you?
B: It gives me independence. That is the most important thing of all. I don’t have to rely on public transport or waste time with waiting. I can just GO. I also feel so much slower without my bike. It feels a bit like missing a leg. Whenever I have to walk I can’t help but think how much faster it would be to ride. I also tend to feel a little restless at work when I don’t ride. My bike helped me to make new friends in a new country too, somehow bike people are usually nice people
What do you think the local cycling community needs the most?
B: It would be great to find the balance between ‘being a cyclist’ as belonging, and still not be put into a box in city traffic ‘oh, another cyclist, one of those’. Every cyclist is different and therefore tolerance is very important within any community. People should never feel left out because their bike is not fancy enough, or they just enjoy different aspect of cycling. I find it amazing how many variations cycling has, as hobby and lifestyle too.
Do you feel the local council is doing enough for cyclists in your city?
B: Stockholm has better organized bike infrastructure than Bratislava. Even though Bratislava is on a slow, but good way. Unfortunately in both cities the initiative starts from enthusiasts and volunteers. It is usually the natural way but I think we are at a point when the council could take more initiative on their own (social research among cyclists…)
What do you find to be the scariest aspect of cycling in the city?
B: The disrespect. I am still surprised some drivers aren’t more scared of injuring me. I myself am scared riding close to pedestrians or running children, since I don’t want to be responsible for an accident. Some of the drivers lack this sense.
When visiting Stockholm, where would you advise cyclists to ride?
B: Stockholm is a great city for tourist inner city riding (if you can put up with few hills and bridges). There are also smooth not so busy roads on the surrounding islands (the small islands are connected with either bridges or short ferry ride with wonderful views). The city offers a lot for off road cycling too (one reason I switched my road bike for cross).