#19 no snowdays for us

019/365 no snowdays for us, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Today’s Daily Shoot made me think of transport.

Make an interesting photo of a mode of transportation today: car, plane, bicycle, subway, or whatever you like!

So I took a picture of students’ bikes in the schoolyard at noon. Many curious students kept asking why on earth I was photographing their bikes! I was actually wondering who owns that cute red bike, which really stood out in the long boring line of blacks and greys.

I am actually amazed at how many students cycle all through the winter, whatever the weather. They must be really fit! It’s understandable, though, if they live not far from school. Cycling doesn’t cost them anything, and is often quicker than many bus services. We don’t know the system of school buses in our country, so students always use public transportation. It’s only for very young primary school kids, who live further than walking distance from school, that the local government must provide a taxi service.

Our country is so geared up for winter conditions that schools, offices or other work places are never closed because of the weather. Snowdays are something out of Hollywood movies to us. We will push against the fiercest winds, and plough through the thickest snow. I think this is because we have been brought up with the Lutheran work ethic, according to which hard work is everybody’s obligation. Consequently, our lifestyle may come across as very rigid and perfunctory.

Foreigners think Finns are barking mad to cycle on slippery roads. I tend to agree with them! I really worry about students who cycle without a hat at minus temperatus with the wind chill factor. My bike will be safely hibernating until the last trace of ice has disappeared – hopefully sometime around April.


2 Responses to “#19 no snowdays for us”

  1. January 20, 2010 at 06:08

    I agree – the red bike is cute. Red is so good against white. I can’t believe people cycle in the snow, and when you say without a hat, do you also mean without a helmet? It’s illegal to ride without a helmet here. Interesting you say you may have been influenced by the Lutheran work ethic. My mother and grandmother were Lutheran, and I didn’t see any of that.

    Do you have strict road rules? What’s the speed limit? Do you have probationary drivers with special limitations? We have red and green Ps (probationary drivers’ licenses). First year of driving is a red P, and you can only have one passenger in your car apart from family. You can’t drink any alcohol at all. Then you have 3 years with a green P. You can read about it here:
    Still we have too many road fatalities. Just a few days ago 5 young people were killed not far from my home. The driver was doing 140 km per hour in a 70 km zone. I don’t know what the solution is.

  2. 2 sinikka
    January 20, 2010 at 10:55

    Wearing a cycling helmet is not mandatory here, although many older people do, and some schools require that student under a certain age wear one. Many young people choose not to – you know, it will ruin your hairstyle, and looking good is more important!

    It may be a myth about the Lutheran work ethic here, or most probably it’s just part of the story. There must be something serious about the Finnish mentality as a whole, although I’m sure the church had a big influence on this in the past and contributed greatly to forming our cultural traditions, customs and value systems. Also you’ve got to bear in mind and until quite recently (last ten years or so) Finland has, by and large, been a very homogeneous country with a population of only 5 million.

    Strict road rules? Yes, and mostly Finns are very law-abiding. People often laugh at us, in the middle of the night, when there’s absolutely nobody around or on the road, and pedestrians still dutifully wait for ‘the green man’ to cross the street, for example. The speed limit on main roads is normally 100km/hour, but in winter often 80. It’s really interesting what you told me about young drivers in Australia. We, too, have a lot of problems with especially young boys speeding when they first get their licence at 18. They still can’t handle the car very well, want to show off and cause horrible accidents, just like in your story. How awful! Also drink-driving tends to be a problem, among all age groups. When I first got my licence, eons ago, I had to have an 80 sticker on the window for a year – meaning, young drivers couldn’t exceed 80 km/hour. I would like to reintroduce this system, but unfortunately it was stopped long ago. So no, there are no restrictions to young drivers. I think your system sounds much better. I must say, though, that driving in Finland is so peaceful and easy. A big country with so few people – we call 3 cars in sight a traffic jam šŸ™‚

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