Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Return to Copenhagen: Bicycles

Within our first day in Copenhagen, Don declared the city had too many bicycles. That is a lot coming from him.

The Danish have a huge surtax on cars. A lot as in 150-180%, and the cars are not cheap in the first place. Hard to complain about 7% sales tax on cars in New Jersey. HERE is a blog post about the situation that explains it better than I can.

The Danish government did a huge push to encourage cycling. A quick eyeball, and I'd say most of the cyclists in Denmark are women. Don has seen statistics supporting my theory. Women feel comfortable cycling in Denmark. Cyclists wear their normal, everyday clothes while commuting. On our first few days it was very hot out, and the women were wearing sundresses.

Helmets are rare. Some people now wear something around their necks that looks like a neck brace, but is actually an airbag. It senses when you are about to fall off the bike and rapidly inflates. Fortunately we did not see any in action. Don thought about getting one, but it has not been approved for use (yet) in the United States. At $250 for one, he wasn't sure if he would really use it. Plus it would take up surprisingly a lot of space in the suitcase.

Don's real complaint was the amount of discarded bicycles. In places like this two-story parking lot by the Central Train Station many of the bicycles seem abandoned. There certainly seem to be more bicycles than cyclists. All over town we saw bicycles in states of neglect -- including missing parts and spiderwebs. 

Then there is the cycling traffic --- the cyclists have the right of way and are not sharing it with cars or pedestrians. Our tour guide referred to the bell on bicycles as a death warning. If you don't move when you hear that sound, the cyclist will run you over.

The city has made itself more bike friendly. In 2016 they opened the "Kissing Bridge." Other than having a lousy design, it is a huge success. They initially hoped 3,000-7,000 people would use it each day. Instead 16,000 people do (cyclists and pedestrians). It comes in at the center of the city near Nyhavn -- one of the most popular pickpocket, um...tourist, spots in Copenhagen.

The United States can (and in some places is) learning a lot from Copenhagen's example. On the other hand, Copenhagen could do a massive sweep of abandoned bicycles and clean up their city!

1 comment:

  1. I happened to catch recently the Simpsons episode set in Copenhagen "Throw Grandpa from the Dane."

    My husband who's been through Copenhagen a few times for business enjoyed seeing cartoon versions of the sights - I thought you might as well.