Interview with Lars Nilsson, "bicycle architect" at FOJAB
The bicycle is a convenient way to get around. But it is more than that. For many, cycling is as much about design and aesthetics as functionality. For many, it is a lifestyle. The benefits of cycling are also many - less congestion, better environment, better public health and attractive urban environments. Architect and cycling enthusiast Lars Nilsson became interested in bicycles when he bought his first bike at the age of 16 for SEK 535.
Lars Nilsson speaks at a fast pace, you can tell he is enthusiastic. We took the opportunity to ask him some questions.
How did you become interested in this?
- One early summer day about 15 years ago, I got the idea to start cycling to work. I took over an old bike from a colleague. Then I got two more and thought I wanted to do something with them. I wanted to add a personal touch. That's when I started buying parts and accessories on eBay - and that's where my interest in bike design was born.
You have built around 20 bikes over the years, almost exclusively for colleagues and friends. Where do you find inspiration?
- Sometimes I am given a free hand, but mostly I build the bikes according to the customers' wishes and requirements. I am very much inspired by old models and today you can find lots of inspiration on the Internet. It usually starts with me running into a nice part - a nice saddle or handlebar stem. Then I start from there and come up with an idea. At home I have a large stock of parts.
Do you benefit from your professional role as an architect?
- The creative side and the desire to create is something I have with me. Assembling a bike is a fairly large project. You can compare it to a construction process where you "assemble a house" but on a much smaller scale.
Lars advocates the environmental and urban aspects of cycling, among other things. How can we get more people to cycle?
- We need to plan the city for increased cycling. Cities like Copenhagen and Malmö are leading the way. Copenhagen tops the list of the world's best cycling cities. Sixty percent of people there cycle to work, while only fourteen percent take the car. "By expanding cycle paths, making sure that pedestrians know where to go and creating more cycle parking, we can increase cycling in cities. And I believe that rental bikes are the future - Malmö is doing a great job.
How many bikes do you own?
- I have eight bikes of my own! But I'm close to work so I prefer to walk. But there was a time when I cycled between the office in Malmö and my home in Lund.