Wednesday, September 26, 2007

See the World on Two Wheels

One unique thing about living in Denmark is how bicycle friendly the country is. In the town we lived in previously the city has a policy of putting in bike lanes any time a major piece of roadwork is re-done (e.g. Richmond Road). These bike lanes are about as wide as a Barka Lounger and motorist cut in and out of them with abandon. Compare that with Copenhagen with their dedicated bike lanes and bike lights. You just don't have the same feeling of "I could die a horrible painful death at any moment... and these could be my last conscious thoughts..." here.

I read somewhere that 35 percent of Copenhageners commute to work or school on their bikes. I'm sure this has something to do with the fact that when you buy a car you pay 120 percent in taxes. But also it is just much easier to get around the city on a bike than in a car. Parking is incredible expensive and this old European city wasn't built for motor vehicle traffic so getting anywhere in a car can take forever. Also in the hierarchy of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, motorists are always last. The city is actually quite flat and it doesn't get very hot here so your not faced with arriving at work sweat-soaked. People are generally dressed very nicely as is documented on a local blog I recently found called Cycle Chic. They also do any number of random things while biking. Things I've personally seen include: mess with their iPod, drink a beer and have a heated fight with their girlfriend.

I'm ever-so-slowly becoming a more experienced cyclist here in Copenhagen. I spent some time while out walking with John learning the basic rules of "driving" a bike; hand signals, how to enter and exit the bike lane, etc. Some things I learned by doing. Such as if you want to turn left, you signal right and turn into the bike lane with the other bikes waiting for the light to change. You do not just turn left even if you've first checked to make sure a car or another cyclist isn't about to hit you. Of course I figured this out midturn, in that moment where you are in the dead middle of the intersection and there is no going back, when you want to yell loudly, "SORRY! I'M AN AMERICAN AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING."

I usually end up biking about twice a week - to church on Sundays and at least one other time with John. I'd probably bike more but it takes an incredible amount of effort to push a Christiania bike and it really wears me out to do a normal six mile bike ride with John in that bike. Michael bikes 4 kilometers (about 2.5 miles) to and from work every day on his bike. We met each other this afternoon to take John to feed the swans and I snapped this picture before we headed home.

4 comments:

Phil P. said...

Rebecca:

I would like to see you do all three distracting things on a bike: drink beer, mess with your iPod, and fight with your girlfriend...or in this case husband.

You can do it!

Rebekah said...

That would take the cake for public displays of dysfunction. Especially since I'd be the pregnant woman drinking the beer.

Phil P. said...

eh, whatever.

you still wouldn't top britney spears in that category...

or maybe you could be the britney spears of denmark!

Rebekah said...

I think I'd at least need a bad weave before I could be the Britney Spears of Denmark.