Kopenhavn I: Arrival

With a great friend like Cecilia to greet us, arriving in Kopenhavn was a dream. Of course, she greeted us by waving a set of Danish Flags. Definitely a relief to have a great guide in a new country.

It was so easy to get around because she showed us how to take the train. Of course, we sat in the first seat which gave us a view of the city.

The entire trip, the weather was bearable even without my heavy third upper layer and long underwear–the latter, I never used. The former I used once, and I was too warm. Thus, I was able to actually wear the same clothes I had been wearing in San Diego.

Of course as soon as I got off the subway I saw what I was looking for: bicycles, bicycles, and more bicycles.

Near every door of every shop there were lines of bicycles some of which were so dense looked like stacks and piles of bikes.

Everywhere you looked there was bicycle traffic which was thicker than auto traffic which was great because it allowed people to move more efficiently down the narrow streets.

The most peculiar thing wasn’t really the bicycle infrastructure, but how inexpensive and simple it looked.

The main bike path was not, as I had expected, separated from vehicular traffic by walls, but rather it was a step up from the street with a little curb and a step down from the sidewalk. Thus all three modes ran side by side. The bicycle paths were large enough for two bicycles to ride side by side with a third to squeeze by.

The bicycles were mostly rusted and crappy three speeds, but people looked very elegant on them.

Thus, the cost was much lower than expected, and the impact was huge. I was shocked to see how little it would take to make San Diego and the rest of the United States bicycle friendly.

Also, in Kopenhavn, all races and religions were represented on their bicycles. The only thing in common besides their mode was their glamor.

Thus, all the objections based on femininity, or suits, or physical fitness, or age or any other consideration were complete twaddle.

Often cars parked half way on the bike lane and buses unloaded passengers right on the bicycle lanes.

This confusion didn’t impede the bicycle traffic in any meaningful way. The oldest ladies to the youngest children–some of them as young as four riding on their own bicycles–smoothly went around any obstruction.

The drivers were incredibly well behaved waiting behind the baby blue rectangle in front of every intersection where there was a possible right hook.

Thus the objection about right hooks was also twaddle.

There were a very few racer types with helmets and spandex who rode much faster on newer, fancier bicycles which puts to rest the whole racing based objection to infrastructure that San Diego has been infected with in the thirty year reign as unofficial “bike expert” Jonas Trees.

All in all, everyone rode bicycles. It was so normal it was almost boring.

There were more bicycles safely accommodated on single lane streets in Kopenhavn as there are for a few hours a month in San Diego during the biggest group rides like Critical Mass. Thus, this puts to the bed the whole myth that bicycles interfere with traffic.

In fact vehicular traffic was light and moved much smoother in San Diego despite the constant lights at every intersection, lack of traffic light “triggers”, and the absurdly low speed of twenty miles per hour which confirmed my hypothesis that “net traffic speed” and not “top speed” are more important. “Net traffic speed” was much higher due to the almost total lack of vehicular traffic.

This created a sense of calm and order that I had been craving for such a long time.

Sweet Kopenhavn.

And I saw this in the first half and hour while standing on the street corner…


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