So, it was my birthday at the beginning of June, and my boyfriend, awesome as he is, gave me a bike! How great is that?!
“Wait,” you say, “you live in Copenhagen and you don’t have a bike? What gives?!” And that’s a completely legitimate question! When I moved here, I actually had a bike, which I brought with me from Germany. It was an old one, that I had already bought used, about two or three years before I even moved to Frankfurt. It wasn’t great, but it worked okay. I had every intention on becoming a full-on, biking Copenhagener, but that never really happened for different reasons: I didn’t work in Copenhagen, so no need to commute by bike. The boyfriend doesn’t own a bike, so we always took public transportation when we were going somewhere. And then, this thing with my back happened, and I wasn’t in any condition to bike. But even after my back is better, it hasn’t really made sense to me to bike to work, with a commute of 45-60min on public transport.
And then, my bike got stolen last year, from the building’s parking garage. Well, not actually stolen. In a series of unfortunate events that makes me extremely angry, the building management decided to “clean up” in the bike basement. To do this, they said they would put stickers on the bikes, which had to be removed before a certain date, or the bike would be taken. Of course, I went down before the date, but there was no sticker on my bike. Or so I thought. I must have missed it, because when I returned some time after, my bike was gone.
Now, I’ll start a new job in August, which is much closer to where I live, so I had been playing with the thought of getting a new bike. And now I got a super cool one, namely this beauty, a used Kildemoes city bike with a vintage look. I found it at Baisikeli, a store near Dybbølsbro station, which not only sells used bikes, but also has a repair shop, rental store, and a café attached to it. Baisikeli aims to develop a sustainable biking culture in Mozambique, which they finance with the proceeds from their repair shop, rentals, and sales of used bikes here in Denmark. So not only did I get myself a super chic bike, I also did some good!
When we walked through the store, it didn’t take long before this beauty caught my eye! I knew it had to be a city bike, so I could sit upright, which is important for my back. And I knew I didn’t want it to be just another black bike. And I loved this one the second I saw it. Pale yellow, with a brown leather saddle and leather handles as well. And the adorable little metal sign on the frame! Now I’m all set to go anywhere … within a reasonable distance, that is!
I’ve named my bike Liselotte, because I’m just weird like that. I’ve also gotten here some cool new gear, so now I can store anything on the front rack. I was a bit unsure about that when we got the bike, but I actually think it’s better than a basked, since you can really fit anything on there. It’s worked with a full bag of groceries and my purse.
Now, many of my friends and co-workers have heard me rant about cyclists before, and some people’s immediate reaction to my birthday presents was “but you hate bikes!” So I feel it is in order to share some of my thoughts and views on biking and the Copenhagen bike culture.
I do like the bike culture in Copenhagen. I think it’s healthy to bike, it’s great for the environment, and it reduces traffic in the city. I also do believe that room should be made in urban planning for cyclists.
I don’t like the basically exclusive focus that is placed on bikes in Copenhagen, as compared to pedestrians, for example. I’ve experienced several times that bike lanes were cleared of snow in winter first thing in the morning – and the snow is just shoveled onto the sidewalk!
I do believe that cyclists, just like everyone else, should stick to the rules.
I don’t have patience for asshole cyclists, who think that it’s okay to almost run people over as they are getting off a bus – there are clear rules saying that cyclists have to wait and let passengers get off a bus when it’s stopping. This is because in most cases, bus passengers have to step directly onto the bike lane. [Side note: Sometimes, there’s a small strip of sidewalk between the street and the bike lane, in which case bikes don’t have to stop.]
I do think it’s okay to take your bike on the train with you.
I don’t think it’s cool to violate the rules about bringing bikes on the train with you. Almost every morning, on my way to work, I see people getting on and off at Nørreport during the “restricted” times. I see people cramming their bikes onto crowded trains to go two stops (seriously, if you’re not going to bike that distance, why even bother bringing a bike at all?!). I’ve seen people ask an elderly man to get up from his seat so they could put their bike there. I mean, come on! Trains are predominantly for people. It’s a courtesy that you can bring your bike on it!
So, as excited as I am about biking more, I really don’t want to become one of those self-righteous asshole cyclists I see sometimes. Don’t get me wrong – I believe the vast majority of cyclists are actually really nice people. But there’s always some black sheep, and I wish they were actually fined more for all the crap they pull out there! Be sure to watch out for me and Liselotte as we roam the streets of Copenhagen!