Sunday, 22 September 2013

Foreign thoughts on cycling in Copenhagen

This was going to be a topic to talk about in my blog, but I pretty much lost my voice this week and I’ve spent a good part of the weekend in bed for similar reasons – so vlogging kind of went out the window. The next best thing? Blogging again! As the only requirement for this is hands to type with… perhaps part of my brain too but we shall see how far we get…

I have mentioned the biking situation in parts in previous posts so I thought after a month of being here, I would expand my thoughts on cycling culture so far.

My new other half needs a name.

So a statistic told me that now over 52% of Copenhageners commute to work by bike. It’s quite crazy for me to get my head around when UK bike commuters, although have been on the increase, seem so few in comparison. At first I thought the motivation behind this was eco-friendly and ‘being green’ (if you weren't aware, Copenhagen are aiming to become the first carbon neutral city in the world), however from some quick background reading it appears the most common reason is because it is just the way they do it here, everyone cycles! So when your city is geared up for it, with purpose built cycle paths separate from the road and pavement, why wouldn't you? So I decided to join the bandwagon!

Bikes and bike lanes

What is so useful about cycling? Although I had a couple of hiccups in the beginning (falling off, nearly being hit by a car) I’m growing to enjoy cycling like I did when I was a kid. The city is extremely flat in comparison to home which makes for easy travelling. You do feel safer not having to travel in such close proximity to cars and although bike lanes aren't on every street, it seems to almost be law that cyclists have right of way over pretty much everyone. On top of that is the cost factor – it’s much cheaper than running my car and public transport costs a bomb if you are having to use it more than once a day. Walking of course is doable, but in a capital it is time consuming (and I’m not exactly known for being the most patient of person..).

Bikes and bikes and bikes...
I do still have a bit of a love-hate relationship though. I’m terrible with knowing what to do with bikes so when anything goes wrong, I feel a bit stuck. I managed to deal with my flat tyre averagely well after a moment of weakness feeling stranded without transport in a foreign city. Also the parking situation can be a bit of a nightmare. When I say bikes are everywhere, I mean.. everywhere! Propped up outside houses and shops, along roadsides and in bike designed parking bays. Some never seem to move and I swear they are just ghost bikes, left for years gone by but you never know. On top of that, don’t aggravate a Danish cyclist – they take it very seriously if you get in there way or if you don’t signal properly, their bike bell aggressively ringing in your ear. Talk about a different type of road rage!

Just your typical bike parking in Copenhagen centre

I found the process of finding a bike not the best either. I messaged countless of people on a selling website with little results and with new bikes costing the equivalent of a second hand car in the UK – it was my only choice. I grabbed the first bike I could get my hands on. It’s not perfect, a few cracks here and there, mismatched pedals and no bike stand (yet) – but I’m learning to love it. It’s almost becoming a part of me now that I rely on it so much – like I did with my little green bug at home (my car). I feel I need a nickname for it – so any suggestions?

My little green bug - currently tucked up in hibernation until my return.
To sum up – it’s a culture shock I find interesting and enjoyable. I’m feeling nervous about the winter commutes but it’s something I need to get used to if I wish to become a temporary Copenhagener. Also drunken cycling on a night out is interesting (still not sure if its legal though...)So if you find yourself in this city – invest in a bike ASAP.

Byeee for now!

Floor art is the new wall art.

P.S. an update on my floor situation – supposedly I have leak. It’s looking good, no? It’s my own modern art feature for my room, don’tcha know.

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