I felt like I saw more bikes than cars during the morning commute and afternoon rush-hour. The bike lanes were as wide as the sidewalk and had stoplights of their own. I couldn’t help but notice the similar style and features of most of the bikes I saw, too. Wanting to share this with others like myself, who had no idea of this bicycle oasis, I took notes of what I saw. Here are five things I saw in Copenhagen that inspired my inner cyclist.
The streets were almost divided into thirds. 1/3 for cars, 1/3 for bikes, and 1/3 for pedestrians. It seemed as if the city had taken out a car lane and dedicated it to bikes. Turns out, they did. Copenhagen intentionally removed car lanes to make traffic worse. This motivated people to get out of their cars and bike to work. It seem to be doing just that, with the number of people on bikes outnumbering those in cars. The bike lanes are different from what we have in the US, too. Rather than being separated by a white line on the road there is an an entirely separate raised “sidewalk” for bikes to help reduce accidents.
The second thing I noticed was a simple yet effective lock on almost every bike, called a frame lock. These locks are attached to the bike and lock around the rear wheel. What I found useful about these was that they are built right onto the bike, so there was no forgetting it at home. They seemed to work well in Copenhagen where crime is low, but wouldn’t do well in a city like New York. The lock wouldn’t stop someone from loading it into a truck, but it would keep them from being able to ride off with it.
I noticed a strong sense of cycling etiquette as I watched people navigating the city streets. Hand signals and obeying the dedicated cyclist stoplights and street signs were the norm and you would get funny looks or called out otherwise. It seems that there is less emphasis on cycling etiquette here. That’s why courses and advocacy offered by people like Megan Hoffman a.k.a. the cyclist lawyer are a great resource to the cycling community.
80% of the bikes I saw in Copenhagen used in an internally geared hub shifter. Not sure what that is? Instead of having a cassette and derailleur hanging off the side of the wheel, all of the gears are packed into a metal case around the axle. These heavy yet bulletproof hubs are an effective and straightforward option for a city bicycle. Lasting far longer than a traditional cassette and derailleur system and requiring less maintenance and upkeep. It’s worth considering one of these for your get around town bike. If you need help figuring out which one will work on your bike, reach out to our customer support team here.
Hövding Bike Helmets
Invented in Sweden, these “helmets” are more like airbags that detect when a rider gets in a crash. It’s worn around the neck similar to a neck brace and when the helmet senses a change in G Force, the airbag deploys and protects the riders head. From what I could tell, the major advantage of this over a traditional helmet is keeping your hair looking good!
Christiania is a funky little utopia just outside the main city center in Copenhagen. The Christiania bike is a front loading cargo tricycle whose roots are traced back to the tiny village. They make for an effective way of hauling children, groceries, or any other goods around town.
I was amazed at how implemented and advance cycling culture was in Denmark. From the bike lanes, to the helmets, and different styles of cargo bikes they offer. I don’t know if bicycles are the answer, but I do know that they puts less of an impact on the environment, keep cars off the road, and get the legs moving. And that’s a great thing. Next on my list, Amsterdam!