I Love Riding in the City
NAME: Christopher Ryan
LOCATION: Helsinki, Finland
Where do you live and what’s it like riding in your city?
Helsinki, Finland, is one of the best places to ride in the world, even in the winter when a fleet of trucks keeps the paths (mostly) clear. Cyclists and pedestrians are fully considered in just about every component of the infrastructure, resulting in paths and routes that crisscross the city. One has to venture into rural outreaches if they want to ride open roads alongside cars, but even then there are often separate paths and cycle tracks. Nearly everyone rides here, be it a grandmother with groceries in the basket of her ancient Helkama, a tiny kid scooting up and down the driveway through the dark-free summer night, or some dreadlocked fixed-gear aficionado circling the velodrome while soccer teams practice on the infield.
What was your favorite city to ride in, and why?
Portland, Oregon is still my favorite city for cycling. There’s nothing like that place: the exotic bike culture, the competitive atmosphere, the paths and bridges, trails and hills, the cycling-centric businesses... it’s unparalleled. While the attitude in Helsinki is, “We have lots of cyclists; I suppose we must install some racks and build many paths,” the attitude in Portland is, “We have lots of cyclists here! Let’s lay down a shitload of paths and give people places to race, places to store their bikes when they go for coffee or beer, places to buy and sell bikes for five bucks or ten thousand, and while we’re at it let’s host bike parties, bike festivals, bike shows, bike museums... etc.” Helsinki could learn a lot from that city.
Why do you love riding in the city?
I just love riding, be it in the city or the woods. It’s a privilege to be healthy and capable, to own a decent bike, and to live in a city that wants me on its paths, so I take full advantage of that. If we don’t use the facilities provided, they will go away.