Bikes in Copenhagen

Public bikes in CopenhagenI was impressed by the courtesy and patience of Danish motorists towards cyclists on a recent visit to Copenhagen. People seem to be aware that a cyclist is taking their life in their hands and give them time and room.
Copenhagen is fairly flat, so there are a lot of cyclists, and a lot of trikes with some kind of box on the front like a Dutch bakfiets, mostly adapted as forward-facing child-carriers. But unlike Amsterdam, they don’t have the steep hump-back canal bridges to contend with. The pavements are a low kerb up from the wide cycle lanes, which are a low kerb up from the roadway. I imagine the kerbs are low so nobody gets trapped by a wide vehicle, as I have experienced here with our buses and some foot-high kerbs. The narrower more central streets are mostly pedestrianised.

The variety of bikes is pretty good too, with a lot of the utility kinds you tend to see over here only at bike events actually in use on the streets. In the Christiania area, where private cars are forbidden, this was even more the case.

The majority of bikes are a fairly sturdy sit-up-and-beg type, with 3-speed rear hub, back-pedal brake and a front caliper brake, locked with one of those caliper type locks where you slide a lever and remove a key. Either there are few thieves, or the bikes are so ubiquitous that there is no point stealing them. The council also provides Bycyklen – free bikes, a bit like the White Bikes that were “introduced” in Amsterdam in 1968, only official; you put in a 20 Kroner deposit which unlocks the bike, a bit like a supermarket trolley.

By bike is without a doubt the best way to get around Copenhagen, though the hour long boat tour, run by Netto Badene, was enjoyable and pretty comprehensive and only 40 DKK – about 4 quid.


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