Tuesday, September 25, 2012

bike repair in Malmo - Part One - free city infrastructure

so you borrow the old city bike from the owner of the apartment that you are renting.  you ride around town with your buddy who is visiting for a couple of days.  bam!  a flat tire.  now you have this bike with a flat that is not yours and needs a fresh tube or at least a patch and some air.  it's sunday afternoon and most of the bike shops are closed.  monday you're at a conference all day and won't get out til after 6pm at least, when all of the shops are closed again.  the repair could be simple, pop off the tire and replace the tube.  a matter of minutes....
public posted bike map in Malmo
cykelkarta of Malmo.  a map of (free public) bike pumps, bike lanes, and everything else relevant to bicycles in Malmo.  these maps are handed out like candy in the city, online for download or viewing, posted all over the place as physical maps, and at major bike intersections, etc
 so, you pull out your trusty Malmo bicycle street map - cykelkarta (they give these away free all over the city).  this map has all sorts of useful information including:

  • all bike paths and bike lanes in the city (differentiated so you can choose one or the other if you prefer - paths separate from the traffic or lanes next to the traffic)
  • "cycle tracks" - dedicated bike highways to get into and out of the city center, especially for commuting and long distance connections 
  • public water closets to change or "freshen up"
  • bathing locations (showers) 
  • free public air pumps to fill the tires
  • bridges and tunnels (for bikes) 
  • a radius that tells you how far you are from the city center in minutes of bicycle travel
free public air station
guy filling his tires at a free public bike pump station
the street map helps you locate a city pump (you don't know yet that your super new super sustainable apartment complex has a pump and bike workstation in the basement garage).  you hop on your working bike with the tire dangling off the handlebar to the nearest pump, about five minutes away.  when you arrive you set up to remove the tire from the rim and replace the tube (like a complete bike nerd you brought a spare tube from home).  unfortunately, you can't get the tire off the rim because the tire is too small and you need heavy duty tools to wrench it off.  who knew?  
guy filling bike tires at free public air station
snapped a couple of pics while waiting at a free public air pump station
so you watch the guy in front of you fill his tires, followed by a couple who fill their tires, then a family, then another guy, then another couple.  the whole time you are struggling to remove the tire from the rim to no avail.  you feel like you are the star in a show called amateur hour.  sad face

so... you take your working bike and your not working tire and go home, disheartened by the circumstance and your apparent ineptitude with bikes (but mostly because you don't have the proper tools to do your repairs).  on the way home you think about what Boston is doing to benefit cyclists, such as the new repair stations cropping up all over the city that have free tools chained to a "mobile" repair station.  pretty innovative and exciting, especially when you think about the fact that this kind of stand might have helped you in this specific situation in Malmo...

these kinds of bike repair stands are being installed all over the cities (Boston/ Cambridge)
Cambridge/ Boston is installing free publicly accessible bike repair stations for cyclists to make small to medium repairs such as a changing a flat tire, adjusting saddle height, and other repairs that can't easily be done in your office but could be done by many commuter/ average cyclists if they have access to the proper tools
allen wrench, tire lever, pump, 15mm open wrench, etc
tools available on the bike repair station next to my office in Kendall Square include tire levers, allen wrenches, screwdrivers, and of course (for the fixie crowd) a 14/15 mm open ended wrench
when you arrive home, saddened by your un-success and by the fact that you will have to admit in your blog and to your bike buddies that you couldn't change a simple flat tire, you are greeted by the owner of the apartment.  guilty, you explain to her that you have a flat that you can't fix without some better tools.  she smiles brightly (she always smiles brightly, which makes everything seem a little less bad) and tells you about a free bike shop where they allow you to use the tools for free and do repairs on your own bike.  "they even have volunteers that will help you if you don't know how to solve a problem with your bike," she says.  it sounds too good to be true.  you google it together.  she tells you to look up cykelkoket, which literally means the cycle kitchen.  sure enough, there's a website...

stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of the flat tire experience in "Part Two" tomorrow.
will I get out of the conference in time to get to the open hours for the shop?
will I be able to fix the flat?
will I meet cool and exciting people doing interesting things?

the answers to these questions and more... in tomorrow's post: Part Two!


  1. when you arrive you set up to remove the tire from the rim and replace the tube like a complete bike nerd you brought a spare tube from home. CYCLE TOOLS.

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