October 28, 2021
Active Travel

Snow, Ice, & Scandinavian Architecture: Cycle Parking In Sweden

By Jonathan Oldaker

The latest Dutch developments in active travel infrastructure always catch the headlines, but what about elsewhere across Europe?

Sweden is a country where cycling infrastructure is on an upward trajectory, with Malmö– twice being crowned Sweden’s cycling friendly city of the year–the leading example. In 2019, 40% of residents in Malmö cycled to work or school daily.

Like much of Europe, Sweden has seen an uptake in cycling for everyday trips since the Covid pandemic took hold.

With that increase however, comes myriad challenges. Cycle lanes and infrastructure, as well as an increased demand for bicycle storage, are needed to support the willing growth in cycling for transport.

Think the UK winter is tough?

Sweden is well known for its harsh, cold, and snowy winters, explains Antonio Dessi. Antonio works at cycle storage solutions company Klaver Cykelparkering and lives and works in Stockholm .

“Weather conditions during the winter can look very different from a city in the South (for example Malmö) to the North (for example Luleå),” says Antonio.

Explaining that cycling is not as widespread during the winter season, Antonio notes that it is quickly becoming more common.

“Contributing factors are e-bikes, good studded tyres, and plowed cycle paths in most cities,” says Antonio. “If we have well-plowed cycle paths during the days where there is substantial snow, it is quite possible to cycle during the winter period comfortably.”

As with the UK, cycle lanes have seen considerable investment in recent years, but it varies from council to council and city to city.

“Stockholm is not a bicycle city from the beginning, but the cycle lanes in the central city have been implemented together with existing car lanes,” says Antonio.

The success has been mixed so far. Conflict with cars is inevitable with lanes that aren’t fully segregated. But the inclusion of more cyclist-only boxes at major junctions is making a positive difference, explains Antonio.

The importance of safe and secure cycle parking

As cycling infrastructure continues to improve, so will the volume of bikes on Sweden’s roads. Naturally, they’ll need secure bicycle storage.

“The demand for cycle parking is increasing. Last year was our best sales year to date,” says Antonio.

Driving demand is one thing, but the quality of facilities is arguably more important. Antonio explains how, like Turvec, complete solutions with charging stations, repair stands, pumps, folding bike lockers and bicycle ramps are fast becoming the norm.

“That’s our USP–helping create a total solution for cycling storage and not just hitting a number of spaces,” says Antonio.

Architect-designed bicycle parking garages

Much like the Netherlands, Sweden has seen a rise in large multi-level cycle parking facilities.

And in keeping with Scandinavian design clichés, these aren’t just boring concrete car parks, but sophisticated pieces of architectural design.

“The purpose is to offer citizens high quality and safe bicycle parking with the added extras of charging cabinets and service stations,” says Antonio.

Klaver Cykelparkering helped design the layout and supplied the bicycle racks for Scandinavia’s largest parking garage in Uppsala. Using environmentally friendly materials, the facility is a grand triangular building with an entirely timber frame.

Another fine example is in Gamlestad Torg in Gothenburg, where planners recognised the need for a secure facility to encourage growth in the area. The first of its kind in Gothenburg, the parking garage houses 600 bicycles using 2ParkUp two-tier racks over three floors.

At Uppsala University, a pilot scheme to install environmentally friendly, secure cycle storage buildings began last year. The impressive looking buildings are meant to actively encourage cycling through welcoming, well-thought out design.

While incredibly impressive to look at, these facilities are designed to be durable, practical additions to urban environments too. And due to frequent snowfall, smaller cycle shelters are less common as they require additional reinforcement, which comes at extra cost.

Creating better environments for cycling

The overall picture for active travel and cycling Sweden, then, is an evolving one. One which looks to be moving in a positive direction.

“Not so long ago, only dedicated cyclists rode to work,” says Antonio. “Today, anyone rides a bike to work.”

Again pointing to e-bikes for helping accelerate this, Antonio is also well aware of the importance planners have in supporting this change.

“There is a growing awareness among architects and urban planners about creating better cycling environments.

“For example, in new construction projects, surfaces are drawn for cargo bikes from the beginning. Two years ago you would never have seen this,” says Antonio.

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