On yer bike: cycling in Skåne

Skåne is perhaps the most fun one can have on two wheels. (At least when it’s not raining… or windy… or really really hot… )

Skåne is blessed with many wonderful features, but hills are (for the most part) not among them. That means there’s not a lot of action for, say, rock climbers… nor indeed for the sort of cyclist who appreciates the calf-burning thrill of elevation. For the rest of us, however, Skåne’s pancake-like topography makes it a veritable paradise for people-powered forms of transport: bicycles, tricycles, and all their cousins.

Get around town

If you’re mostly staying in one place, then you’ll need little guidance on getting around by bike, especially in the smaller cities and towns: the bike lanes are clearly marked and often physically separated from other forms of traffic, particularly in those cases where they were reclaimed from cars, and routes are indicated by a combination of upright signs and destination names painted on the tarmac at junctions.

Some of the bigger conglomerations can be a bit more challenging for a newcomer—yes, Malmö, we’re looking at you—but signage has been improved with coloured route-lines, and the wayfinding services on all major mapping systems draw their data from the county’s open datasets, which are (almost always) updated with warnings about repair work and diversions. If you find you’re really lost, just ask someone! It’s a great way to meet nice people, and find out about places you might not have heard about.

Ride slow, ride safe: note that urban bike lanes are shared with a variety of other vehicles, including the last few moped hold-outs; you’ll usually hear the latter long before you see them, but remember that children’s bikes, scooters and other such vehicles may be in your blindspot, so always look over your shoulder and signal before making a turn. Urban lanes are also capped at 30kph, and the police are known to make up the summer’s low arrest figures by speedtrapping the longer, straighter runs… so switch your battery down to low-power mode to avoid temptation!

Lock it or lose it: like all university towns, Lund and Malmö have terrible reputations for bike theft—and while it’s nowhere near as bad as it once was, double-locking your fancy wheels (or rented rig) is strongly advised, as is removing the battery and taking it with you. And use the designated parking areas, unless you want to spend the afternoon at the Hemnen bike-pound trying to describe your loyal steed’s distinctive features to whichever trainee cop pulled the short straw this week.

(Note for e-scooter users: most places won’t allow you to take your scooter inside, partly because they take up a lot of space, but also because it’s easier than trying to prevent people charging them on the sly. If there’s no specific scooter zone, lock it up with the bikes.)

The great wide open

Skåne has had a pretty decent network of long-distance cycling routes for some time. Those cycling for cycling’s own sake (and/or for time by the sea) will want to spend some time on Sydkustleden, a coast-hugging cycling route that runs from Simrishamn on the Slow Coast, south and then west through Ystad and Trelleborg, up into Malmö and northward again to Helsingborg. (You’re obliged to stop at either of the two ends, though; the routes continue under different names as they head toward different counties.) You’ll pass through many towns and villages along the way, of course—and Skånian cycling routes are as well provided with pit-stops as the roads of old!—but there’s also much to see for fans of abandoned infrastructure, and nature-lovers should keep an eye out for flexmark zones.

There are also more practical routes across the interior of the county—and if you want to be truly Skånsk, you need to get familiar with the Velobahn. This comprehensive cycling network spans the entire region, encompassing everything from formerly car-covered highways and byways to the picturesque coastal routes discussed above. Think of it as filling the role that the motorways filled for cars, and you won’t be far wrong: direct routes with high capacity… and high speeds! The network is easy to get onto from the urban lanes: just look out for the large moss-green signs, or the VB logo that’s painted here and there on the local paths. Once you’re out on the ‘bahn itself, make sure to keep to the right if you’re treating it as a scenic tour—you will be passed frequently by e-bikers, commuters, and pedal-freighters traveling at breathtaking speeds, but it’s better than getting in their way!

Spares and repairs

Bike broke? Inga problem! Bicycle repair firms are everywhere, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages. Most will offer a while-you-wait service on minor issues, but you may have to wait on something serious—or take a loaner while your own wheels are in for an overhaul. Or you can just buy the parts and do it yourself… though this will rarely save you much money, and deprives the mechanics of people to talk to.

Rent a rig

If you’re in Skåne for long enough to need a bike on the regular, but not long enough for it to make sense to buy one, the bigger towns and cities all have rental firms with decent rates. Bear in mind that the cargo bikes are in high demand during the summer, so book early if you’re planning a long stay out in the country!

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