Tag Archives: copenhagen

Foreign Fieldwork

Keep Right! Does Copenhagen’s success as a cycling city derive from the rigorous application of this simple rule?

That, until I missed the deadline for abstracts, was the title of my submission to this year’s Cycling and Society Symposium. So waste not want not, longer than an abstract but far from finalised, here’s where I currently am post-processing a three day study tour in and around Copenhagen.

I stayed in the fabled City of Cyclists for four nights in an apartment in a harbourside development in Christianshavn. Every morning I got up early and entered the flow of bike traffic circulating around the city’s central streets, copying what everyone else did, getting a feel for how it ‘works’ there, until it was time to follow my GPS back to that day’s meeting point and join the rest of the group. This train of thought is largely concerned with cycling on the busy stuff.


You quickly learn to keep right on a busy bike track as a newbie from a lefty-land, and that’s where you’ll find the kindergarten kids cycling to school on their own bikes, with either a parent giving a helping hand alongside or shadowing directly behind. Once you’re amongst the crowd on the correct side of the street, ‘keep right!’ isn’t something you need to give any conscious thought to – you have the visual indicators of the pavement on one side and the road on the other. Pavement slow and objectively safe, road fast and subjectively scary, and within the bike track itself an effective gradient of increasing speed running out from the pavement towards the road. I don’t think the kids or I were putting any mental effort into trying to remember our right from our left – we were just instinctively staying out of the way by keeping to the edge. Continue reading

Unequal Rights

DisabledCyclistSign-300x184The concept of the cycle as a mobility aid is taken more seriously in some places than others. Graffiti aside, this sign outside a library in Denmark is the best icon I’ve seen to represent the cultural chasm running down the middle of the North Sea. I challenge anyone to post a picture of an equivalent sign denoting disabled cycle parking in the UK.

Thanks to Cycle Chic blogger, photographer and style guru  Mikeal Coalville-Anderson for bringing this to our attention. You can read more about danish mobility aids here in his daily record of life in and around Copenhagen.

Compare that with this story of everyday life in our own cycling capital, where Ann Wright was prevented from cycling considerately along London’s South Bank by a PCSO.

Continue reading

Copenhagenize & Cycle Chic

Ooh you’re in for a treat today – get a coffee and a bar of chocolate first though 😮

Since the climate (dis)agreement last week Copenhagen is finding itself tainted by the ensuing bad press, which is a tad unfair considering it’s a leading light in the world of sustainable transport.

I went to Denmark on a business trip a few years ago and it was the first time I ever flew with my Brompton. Once I’d got to the hotel in Roskilde I unpacked the bike and set off for the city. It was a bit of a trek, Roskilde’s about 20 miles west of Copenhagen, but what an experience when I got there…

Lycra, helmets, 10 speed campag derailleurs, all the usual paraphernalia that every cyclist needs just wasn’t to be seen, but there were thousands of bikes. Since that trip I sometimes remind myself of what everyday life on a bike could be like by visiting a cycling fashion blog…

Kids and Bicycles

Snow and Bicycles

Boots and Bicycles

The site is packed with interesting info, guides and advice – bookmark it and browse around when you’ve had enough of work, cars or people in a hurry, and before you know it you’ll be ready for life in the slow lane.

And then when you’re hooked, when you’re just starting to wonder why it is Witney can’t have a thriving bicycle culture, you’re probably ready for this.

All these sites originated from one photo by a guy with a camera and an odd way of looking at hoovers…

I struggle to get all this across to potential members of WitneyBUG, to get around that barrier of special clothing, protective clothing and sporting prowess that the word cycling conjures up in today’s minds. Or is that because actually, I really am weird? That the Danes, the Dutch and the Germans just don’t realise how incredibly dangerous it really is on the roads, and how they’re just getting in the way of law abiding people with real jobs and important stuff to do like driving to the gym to keep fit and healthy? After all, it’s not going to be worth having a future if we don’t get this economy back on track. Bikes are for kids – but only if they stay off the pavements and out of the shopping centres.

[Sigh] If you want to see a better quality of life in Witney, something approaching what’s goes on everyday in Copenhagen, then you could do a lot worse than joining WitneyBUG.

And since it’s almost Christmas…