Almost Free Rides and Too Many Tidbits

This time, I’m posting some recent photos from Helsinki, where spring consists of some blue in the sky, lingering brown dust, and sunlight that shows you exactly how much your windows are in dire need of washing.

The city has offered its inhabitants and visitors free bikes for a few summers now, but this year there’s a new addition: a city e-scooter*. Borrow one, ride around town screaming like a madman (or, if you’re the carefree type, like a kid on a rollercoaster), and then leave it wherever you want. Just abandon it. Someone else will then find the e-scooter and borrow it. Voilà. All this completely free of charge*.

Well, as you know, nothing in life is truly free. Someone has to be the grown-up and pay the bill. City bikes and e-scooters are sponsored by us taxpayers. I haven’t had the chance to try either myself but it might be fun to try a scooter.

Although… I did hear a rumor that in Stockholm they’d had bad experiences with safety in a similar experiment. And to tell you the truth, whenever I see people riding around on those electric things, moving quickly amongst traffic, bikes or pedestrians with no real suitable lane for their vehicle of choice, I look at the riders and think, “They have no helmets!!”

That must be a very cultural thought, or what do you say? Over here, so many people wear helmets for riding their bikes that whenever someone doesn’t wear one, it seems daring, like they are pushing their luck, tempting fate. Those e-scooters make it look even worse!

But it’s funny how the idea of wearing a helmet gradually grew on me: like probably all of you, I too spent my childhood happily riding my bike without a helmet, in blissful ignorance of anything that could go wrong, and some people have pointed out to me that cars back then didn’t even have seat belts in the back seats. (I only remember our car’s door didn’t close properly and there was a hole in the roof, but I don’t recall the seatbelt part.)

Sometimes it would be good to know a bit less. I’m waiting for a selective memory and tidbit erasing service to be invented.

*Edit: apparently the scooters aren’t free, you rent them for a euro! I was a bad blogger and didn’t do my research properly! Something similar goes for the bikes.

74 responses to “Almost Free Rides and Too Many Tidbits

  1. I enjoyed your Helsinki photos, Nicole. It looks well worth a visit. I hadn’t really given much thought to the fact that I and my friends all rode our bikes to and from school without wearing helmets. The first couple of cars my dad owned didn’t have any seatbelts front or back. Of course in those days, there wasn’t as much traffic on the roads and cars weren’t as fast, but I guess we were still living dangerously. 😳

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We have these scooters in Paris and Marseille. I’ve tried both. Definitely not free of charge!! But good fun.
    I grew up not wearing a seat belt in my parents’s car, sometimes in the front seat if I was lucky – in which they smoked heavily by the way. Bike rides or skiing didn’t not imply helmets. It still isn’t the case for me… Security is a good thing. But too much prevention makes me sometimes think people can be less careful with a helmet on and have the impression they are totally safe… which is impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed your photo ‘brows’ in the streets of your city a lot. And about the helmets, I don’t know, I never wore a helmet on my bike and the idea of doing so doesn’t appeal to me that much. Although with the increasing popularity of electric bikes it might be wise (when on one of them yourself) and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is going to be a regulation for that in the (near) future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Peter! There actually is a regulation over here saying you must wear a helmet when you ride your bike (even as an adult). But only 1/3 do so, mostly kids and teens, and they don’t write you a ticket or anything if you don’t wear one, no consequences. Well, except for your own safety 😁 A lot of people (men, mostly) ride their bikes to work in full tour de France gear, probably a bit of a distance, and all of them always have helmets. They are very aggressive riders actually and severe accidents get reported in the local papers all the time. But I do agree that riding without a helmet feels more free, more fun somehow!

      Liked by 1 person

      • We got them would be Tour de France winners as well 🙂 They often operate in groups, colonizing the bike lanes. 😦 They do wear helmets, wisely, because those speeds on a flimsy bike are dangerous. Sometimes there is an uproar of peaceful sunday-bikers against those obnoxious speed devils, but it hasn’t evolved into a civil war. Yet. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great photos. Some even suit “looking up” theme!! Hehe! E scooters are all over Brisbane city now, Snow. They have caused numerous accidents already and only a few have helmets offered with them. Most of the helmets disappear but are flimsy at best anyways. You can even earn money if you take them home and charge them up. They have been so popular that the council has extended the trial.
    I am ‘old’ so I remember seat belts as an option in cars and not a necessity but also remember sliding forward into the car’s windscreen when the driver braked suddenly on a few occasions. I think with horror of babies lying in bassinets or cradles unrestrained on car’s back seats. Dangerous days. But noone wears helmets on bikes in Denmark and Holland do they?

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  5. We have e-scooters in Brisbane now too, but you have to use an app to pay for using them. It’s become pretty popular but I know several people who have fallen off them, and I’ve seen others have little accidents. Of course, plenty of people use them with no trouble, so I suppose you just need to be careful. And, yes, wear a helmet!

    Lovely photos too! I feel like I’ve taken a stroll around your neighbourhood now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely photos of Helsinki, it’s always so beautiful in the sunshine! A friend at work tried those scooters and said they go fast. I think it’s weird how you can just abandon it in the middle of the road. How does it charge? I haven’t been wondering but haven’t bothered to really look into it. I have tried the bikes (there’s a fee you need to pay to register for the season and if you use them for over 30 min you pay for the overtime) but I wish they went with a helmet. I am a crappy biker due to missing so many years of biking when in Malaysia and have difficulties with bikes that don’t have foot breaks. One rainy day I took out one of these city bikes (without a helmet) and when turning a corner, the wheel of the bike slipped on the wet tram track and I fell over. I must’ve looked bad bc many people rushed over to ask me if I was fine. I left the scene with a few bruises, laughing like a madwoman but in reality, I could’ve really hurt myself. But it seems a bit too much to carry a huge helmet with you at all times just in case you decide to use a city bike..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I was thinking the same: they look fast! When you’re new at it, it’s probably not super safe to ride at full speed. And how weird you can just leave them anywhere (and how do they charge, indeed?). I bet they’ll be gathering them from bushes, nearby towns and the bottom of the sea by the end of the season! Luckily you were okay after your fall with the bike! I don’t like riding in downtown traffic and so I only use my bike (my own one) for athlectic biking on a route that I know has bike lanes – always the same route though, which is a bit boring but then again the biking season is quite short so it’ll do 😊🚲

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nooo, you are a gooooood blogger! 🙂 So many lovely glimpses, including several excellent doooooors!

    The free scooter story (even for 1 eur) sounds fully unbelievable. Where I come from (and in Rome where I’m right now) they wouldn’t last three days. In Rome there are so many free bikes, demolished, lying around. I think they had to abandon that idea.

    We never ever used helmets on bicycles in the past. I still haven’t worn one even though I often rode my bike in Slovenia and here in Tuscany too), only on scooters in Greece. Our family cars didn’t have any safety belts in the back, of if they had them we never used them. I still don’t. Not proud of it, just telling how it is. I always use the belt for the dog though but I fear that he has learned to step on the button to open it. (*mumbles something about too smart dogs*)

    I can tell that people who are not used to scooters, especially (drunk) tourists driving them in the city centre (without a helmet), are not good news. I wonder if this initiative will last. Leaving them just anywhere sounds a bit optimistic. (Why not in somebody’s garage?)

    But back to your photos. Ahh, doors. I’ll have another look at them. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Over here things get wrecked too. People drink and get disorderly.
      After writing this post, I realized that scooter means two things: a scooter similar to a vespa, which might be what you are talking about (?) and also a scooter that you can kick with one leg while holding onto it, traditionally used by kids. It’s the latter that I’m talking about. Except they’ve turned electric and been made grown-up sized. The segway craze never landed here, some kids have hoverboards (that blast out music loudly), but these e-scooters… they seem to have instantly become popular.

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  8. Those scooters and their riders terrorized me in Austin, Texas, recently! They were zipping in and out of foot traffic on the sidewalks and I feared getting nailed right on the Achilles tendon multiple times! They do look fun, though. As for helmets, I wear one now to bike, but I sure miss the good old days of the wind blowing through my hair as I raced downhill!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think these scooters are emerging like fungus in every city. In Madrid there has been already a few accidents and a lot of complains. Well, it’s not a city for bikes, even less for a scooter…
    But here in Zurich is different. I see kids and grown-ups riding their scooters (only kids wear helmets and they ride in non-electrical scooters, of course) and I don’t see they cause so much trouble. Probably because because you can see a lot of bike lanes in almost every street with traffic, so scooters don’t need to occupy pedestrian area… I guess all of these things are very cultural, don’t you??
    By the way, I love to see some new photos from Helsinki! I hope colors and green appear soon!!! If it’s any consolation, it’s snowing again in Switzerland, above 700m, hehehe it’s being a very weird spring this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was thinking of you when putting together this post, since you wished for spring photos from here! I was thinking I need to hurry up because it’s getting greener all the time and soon some of these pics will be outdated 😁 Well, it can still snow here, too. One day it’s warm and summery, and the next day cold again and you’re left wearing too little, like a fool!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love them! Maybe because they are not the typical spring photos with lots of cherry blossoms and so on… it looks more like a little visual tale of how Helsinki starts to wake up after the long winter… The soft spring light, the first green sprouts, the children playing again outside… I love the feeling they transmit! And I don’t think they are outdated… It’s still snowing in Switzerland, so I find them very appropriate! hahaha. If your photos are outdated, I don’t want to know what are my posts about Lapland! 😛

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  10. Why free of charge I wonder? In Norway I think those who want to grab a city cycle has to pay for it. Electrical scooter is still a relatively rare thing here, but I saw quite a few people riding a city scooter in Stockholm when we were spending a few days there during Easter. But why electrical scooters, aren’t manual ones good enough? Exercise taking into consideration.
    Have a great and sunny week! 😊🌸🍀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I wonder that too, since I always love to combine exercise into daily routines: why electrical? As for it being free, I was wrong about that and later added a footnote to the post saying so 😊 But the fee is nominal, not par to the normal high price level here so obviously sponsored somehow.
      I wish you a sunny week too! (Do you speak Norwegian btw? I speak Swedish…)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for the tour of Helsinki, Snow! The e-bikes and scooters are all over my hometown of San Diego area…we will see random scooters parked by a tree in a parking lot some days. Here in Sacramento, the e-bikes are everywhere as you get closer to downtown neighborhoods. They now are parked at the community center at which I worked a few years ago, who knows, if I still worked there, I might have ridden one to the nearby Starbucks. Speaking of helmets, California law has made them mandatory for all ages, fine with me, it protects my head from sunburn too!

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    • So interesting to hear all that! And well, helmets are mandatory here too but no one complies (which is odd because Finns generally love to obey every type of rule). Our city bikes are still the old-fashioned type but I’ve seen private e-bikes around. It feels like cheating somehow though, heheh – for me, the fun has always been in the pedaling part, using my muscles to move the bike !

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  12. Where are those goldfish from, Snow? They are beautiful. Adding some color in the spring 🙂 Those bikes are here in my city too, I used it quite a bit about three summers ago but not anymore. It’s free up to the first 20 minutes, and then it’s something like 1 euro an hour here too. I saw the scooters in Warsaw but they haven’t arrived here yet. I don’t see things and think in terms of safety yet, but I think it will come with age 😀 Hope you’re doing well!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for the tour of Helsinki. I bet you’re enjoying that sunshine. My windows, too, are grimy with blown dirt, which is unavoidable around here.
    There are no helmet laws here for either bicycles or motor bikes. Ironically, more cyclists wear helmets here, especially since many ride the Ironman course and like to emulate the participants of that race. Motor bike riders seem to prefer to look cool, with the wind blowing through their hair. I’ve almost always worn a helmet on both kinds of bikes, but then, I’ve never looked cool at any point in my life!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. it’s the law here in australia that you have to wear a bike helmet on a pushbike. we have those green e-scooters here, and they get left all over the place. i’d love to see helsinki. one day….

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ha ha you aren’t a bad blogger! We have those scooters here too … and yes you pay for them. They go way too fast and people tend not to wear helmets. I would love to jump on one but have my reservations how long I’d stay on it 😂. Great post and super pics!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It looks like spring is sprouting! I’ve been to some cities around here that have those scooters. Our town and some others have bike stations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, winters here are long, cold, dark and grey..! Spring isn’t that pretty here, most of the greenery doesn’t appear until late May- June. Summer is very green and autumn usually quite colorful. But oh so short. Autumn is sometimes only a few weeks.

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