Dispatch from Copenhagen

Dispatch from Copenhagen

Rainy day in Copenhagen

Bikes are everywhere on the streets of Copenhagen.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

I just wrapped up my first full day exploring Copenhagen (remember, it’s nine hours ahead of Portland over here). From a bicycling perspective it’s simply remarkable.

They have a 36% bicycle mode share and in some parts of the central city it’s over 50%. What caught my eye at first was the sheer numbers. The packs of riders are larger than I’ve ever seen. I’m staying just a block off of Nørrebrogade (“North Bridge”) which is one of the busiest bike streets in the world. On some days they can see 38,000 bicycle trips over Queen Louise’s Bridge which feeds into it from the southeast. (Nørrebrogade deserves it’s own post. Stay tuned tomorrow.)

While Nørrebrogade is impressive, nearly every street I went down was teeming with people on bikes. And what’s even more exciting to my American eyes are who’s cycling. This is truly an “8-80” riding population. That is to say there are older people as well as young children (under age 8 in many cases) riding their bikes in city traffic. And the gender split? As you can see in my photographs, women often outnumber men.

Copenhagen Day 2-8

I was mentally prepared for this. I’ve seen photos and videos of it for seven years now. But it’s still awe-inspiring.

The reason so many people ride here is due in large part because the network of cycle tracks, bike-only paths, bike lanes, and side streets will take you anywhere you want to go quickly and comfortably. There are a lot of reasons that account for Copenhagen’s high bike ridership; but the infrastructure is at the foundation.

Today I spent about 15 hours out in the city (about seven of which were spent sitting and chatting with Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize). I mostly just wandered around and explored main streets, back streets, and everything in between. I observed the infrastructure, and more importantly, how Copenhageners use it. I’ve got lots of notes and thoughts to share; but it’s 2:20 am and I’ve got a big day planned tomorrow so I’ve got to get some rest. For now, enjoy a few of my favorite photos so far…

Morning rush in the rain

Riding to school in the rain.
Copenhagen Day 2-7

Copenhagen Day 2-19

Sweeping the cycle track!
Copenhagen Day 2-21

Another look at the sweeper. We have got to get one of these.

Copenhagen Day 2-27

Cykler means “bikes” in Danish.
Copenhagen Day 2-28

Copenhagen Day 2-43

Copenhagen Day 2-47

On Nørrebrogade with the wall of the Kirkegard cemetery in the background.
Copenhagen Day 2-57

Just your average back alley bike parking. No big whoop.
Copenhagen Day 2-60

This is a relatively common gesture. It’s sometimes done to help a slower rider, but I think it’s more often just a show of affection.
Copenhagen Day 2-70

This plaza between two large housing blocks had five auto spaces and about 100 bike spaces.
Copenhagen Day 2-67

This is Christian Kronman, the “Street Poet” of Copenhagen.
Copenhagen Day 2-75

This is the most stylish turn signal I’ve ever seen.
Copenhagen Day 2-81

Have you ever seen an older woman like this hop on a bike without a helmet in Portland?
Copenhagen Day 2-95

On Nørrebrogade.
Copenhagen Day 2-107

Start ’em young.
Copenhagen Day 2

The most common cargo bike style in Copenhagen (yet there are only a few in Portland).
Copenhagen Day 2

This guy makes even wheel gutters seem cool.
Copenhagen Day 2

Getting a ride in Mikael’s cargo bike.

Stay tuned!

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