Being without wheels – which aren’t always all that helpful in Longyearbyen – just got a bit easier.
Locals and visitors, especially students, are discovering the joys of cruising the town on 25 new kicksleds available free for the sharing. The sleds were strategically distributed in January, but are now more likely to be found at schools than stores.
“I think it’s a very nice thing to do for us students and schoolchildren who don’t have the opportunity to take the bus,” said Sivert Svarstad, 13, who’s been using the kicksleds daily to get to Longyearbyen School and other stops around town – although he and others say they’re not always at the right place at the right time.
“If you’re in a hurry and going to school, and there’s only half-an-hour until the lecture starts,” Jøran Skaar, 28, at student The University Centre in Svalbard who was helping his friend Stig Lunde escort a kicksled with a large package from the post office to Nybyen.
The kicksleds were made possible by a 100,000-kroner grant to Visit Svalbard from the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund. last fall. The sleds are painted a distinctive green and are fitted with a sign explaining the rules of sharing (in Norwegian).
“We chose the largest and most robust kicksleds,” wrote Trine Krystad, the project’s manager, in an e-mail interview.
Several sleds have been spotted in relatively abandoned areas and/or with damaged signs during the month they’ve been in use, but Krystad said so far the sleds are holding up and it appears people are respecting the rules.
One concern, Krystad said, is the city frequently needs to spread gravel on roads due to ice, which hinders the sleds.
Kicksled sharing is not a new concept, with Krystad noting they’re available in a handful of other Norwegian communities. Spitsbergen Travel has also been making them available for guests at their hotels.