Copenhagen, the City of Bikes. It really is…I am blown away by the sheer number of riders I see as I step out of Kongens Nytorv Metro Station on my first day in Copenhagen. Full-blown road cyclists in full uniform, suited men with briefcases, youngsters on BMX bikes, and even women in heels and skirts cruise by me as a take in my surroundings. There is no stereotypical biker here, that is immediately obvious. All these cyclists stir my many memories of biking as a kid, and I immediately want to join!
Too tired after a long flight, I decide to spend the first night just resting in my hostel (I arrived early). Morning comes and I am refreshed, and as soon as I am awake and dressed I am downstairs scouring the lounge for information on bikes. I quickly learn of City Bikes, a system of free-to-use bikes dispersed around the city. Simply insert a 20 kroner coin into the piece on the handlebar, detach the chain holding the bike, and you’re off. The best part is when you return the bike you get your money back!
Needless to say, I quickly find a City Bike and join the crowd of Danes cruising along on their way around the city. The flood of childhood memories and freedom of biking spin together with the excitement of a foreign city to make for one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life! It is amazing how little they rely on cars; between biking and public transit there really is little need to drive a car in the city. It might only be my first day here, but already I feel part of the Danish culture 🙂
–Skip ahead a few weeks–
It’s nearing the end of September now, and I am a commuter in the Danish style. I ride to the train station every morning, take the train into the city, and ride from Vesterport to DIS. It’s definitely a time saver, and I love the freedom it gives me to get around the city in almost no time at all. Most importantly, I feel very Danish. The feeling is justified…about a third of Danes use their bikes for their daily commutes to work and school. Almost 80% of Danes own a bike, and many of them own more than one. Biking is probably the most popular form of transportation, and most Danes ride their bicycles at least a few times a week. In the city it is not just a lifestyle choice; it is also often the fastest, most direct route from place to place. Biking is truly Danish!
I learned much of the statistics and infrastructural information about biking at the first Climate Seminar at Studenterhuset. I highly recommend these events! Here are some links for further information about biking in Copenhagen:
Copenhagenize Blog – An excellent blog with a number of stories across numerous topics, all related to biking in Copenhagen
Copenhagen – City of Cyclists – Excellent site from the Copenhagen Kommune (kind of like a municipality) for everything biking. Statistics, policies, route info, and more.
Cycle Chic – Don’t believe me about the variety of people on bikes in Copenhagen? Check out this fashion show of extraordinary cyclists.