As a designer I want to focus on projects that can have a positive impact on society. And to get more people to cycle can be an effective way to cope with many of the challenges today’s society is facing. In addition to population growth, an increase in population density and environmental challenges, are research indicating that we are moving less and less.
Edited by: Mari Oshaug
Photos: Mari Oshaug
Job: Master in Product Design
Area of Oslo: Gamlebyen (Old town of Oslo)
Bicycle: I enjoy riding several types of bicycles - from the simplest single speed to an exhilarating mountain bike or a beautiful vintage road bike from the 70s or 80s. They all put a smile on my face!
• Can you tell us about your bachelor project?
The low cycling rate in Oslo was my starting point for my bachelor thesis. As an avid cyclist I have often wondered why there is so few who cycle in Oslo, especially compared to other cities in Scandinavia and Europe. In order to find a good research question that would lead the project towards a specific product, and with the aim to get those who cycle to cycle more, and those who not cycle to begin cycling, I started exploring several aspects around cycling in Oslo and in general.
A typical tendency amongst cyclists in Oslo and Norway, is the highly technical cyclists, equipped from head to toe, who only cycle in a few specific settings. This is consequently making the threshold for cycling quite high, as cycling becomes an activity you only perform in certain contexts. Equally we also see a higher number of male cyclists than female cyclists in the urban traffic landscape. As the project moved forward, I therefore decided to focus the project towards women and low threshold-cycling. I wanted to design something that would enable people, and especially women, to use the bicycle in several everyday tasks and activities. So in order to do that, I further explored several concepts for storing valuables both on and off the bike.
The result became a multi-carry storing gear for women, which I chose to name Betsy (after a bike of mine). Betsy was designed with versatility as well as performance and style in mind. By adjusting the leather straps into desired lengths, you can use it as a hip pouch when cycling or purse when walking. You can also use it as a clutch by completely detaching the straps. Making it easy and comfortable to carry valuables when using your bicycle in several everyday contexts.
As a designer I want to focus on projects that can have a positive impact on society. And to get more people to cycle can be an effective way to cope with many of the challenges today’s society is facing. In addition to population growth, an increase in population density and environmental challenges, are research indicating that we are moving less and less. Over 60 % of our waking hour during a day are spent sitting still. Compared to not be physical active at all, can 30 minutes of daily physical activity contribute to half the risk of lifestyle illnesses. You may end up with a messier hairstyle than everybody else, but you gain a lot more benefits by cycling, both personally and as a society.
• You also talked about being a cycling instructor for women with immigrant backgrounds in Lillestrøm - Can you tell us about that?
My role as a cycling instructor began in 2013 when I was hired by The Norwegian Cyclists' Association for their pilot project to teach women with immigrant background to cycle through cycling courses.
The cycling courses can be an effective integration initiative as it is meant to increase physical activity, mobility and willingness to cycle. Through the cycling courses we teach the women basic cycling skills and cycle maintenance, in addition to the general rules and tips for cycling in the traffic. A very fun and giving job!
• How is your everyday biking?
I have always been interested in cycling, and I cycle whenever I can. Cycling for me is freedom, freedom to go wherever I want, whenever I want in my own pace. It is my preferred transportation, whether it is at home or when I am traveling abroad. I use it to explore, to commute, to relax, to have fun, to be active and I can not imagine a life without.
• What is your opinion on Oslo as a bike friendly city?
There is a lot aspects around cycling in Oslo that could have been a lot better. Such as the general infrastructure with cycle paths and bicycle parking. But compared to only a year ago, I see a lot more cyclists in the city. It is really promising! Oslo is so diverse and there is something for everybody, whether it is mountain, road, fixie or just recreational cycling.
• What can Oslo learn from others cities such as Copenhagen and Berlin?
In addition to the obvious infrastructure, I think we can learn a lot around the general mind set towards cycling in several daily settings and contexts. Over half of all journeys in Norway under 5 km, are done by car. I experience that there are a lot more common to use the bicycle in several aspects of the daily life in cities like for example Copenhagen, Berlin or Amsterdam. Such as going to the grocery store, to work, to deliver your children in day care, to the café etc. Using the bike not only to work out, can be positive initiative towards increasing the general cycling rate.
• If you could initiate a bike-related project in Oslo, what would it be and why?
I would have improved the possibilities to travel with public transport such as trains, buses, trams and metro with bicycles. Sometimes the distance becomes a barrier for choosing the bicycle. Bicycle and public transportation is the perfect combination. With an easier commute, both practical and economical, I think a lot more people would choose to cycle. Just imagine all those people who are living outside Oslo and stuck in traffic on their way to work everyday. Imagine if they started cycling.
• Where is your favorite place for biking in Oslo and why?
I must say there is something special about cycling in the city center at 3 AM in the morning during the summer, when everyone is sound asleep and you have everything for yourself. Empty roads, clear sky, no wind, the moon, plus degrees, complete silence and complete serenity.
I don't have a particular favorite place to cycle. Every part and trip has it own charm, whether it's cycling in the city center during the night, or cycling in to one of the many islands around the Oslo fjord to swim and lay on the beach during the summer, or to the woods to spend a night in a tent and enjoy the serenity of the woods during autumn.
I love the diversity Oslo is offering. We have it all, the bustling city, the beautiful fjord and the quiet woods.