Saturday, April 29, 2017

Copenhagen Cyclists in the Spring

How Lorne Gunter gets to be a columnist for a major Edmonton newspaper is beyond me. I can only hope it's because he is willing to work for food. Oh wait, maybe it's his ability to overlook the obvious: He claims that on his recent visit to Copenhagen, he didn't see any cyclists in the bike lanes

To put it quite simply: I don't believe him. But wait, maybe that is a tad uncharitable. Maybe he is telling the truth. It's possible that he didn't go outside, since he thought the weather was so formidable. (We're talking 8 degrees Celsius -- that's PLUS 8, not minus 8.) Or maybe he just didn't look around him as he walked along with his jacket's hood obstructing his vision.  

In stating his claim, he is trying to prove a point, summarized in the last line of his op-ed: Spending millions on bicycle infrastructure cannot create a bike culture where Mother Nature rules against it.

Why do I think I know better than an esteemed columnist? I have visited Copenhagen not once, but twice.

The first time was in early March and the first thing I noticed was all the cyclists. I rented a bike and rode along with them, all over the city. It wasn't exactly warm -- about 3 to 5 degrees Celsius during my 3-day visit -- but the cyclists were definitely out there.

This statue of King Christian X was one of the sights I rode past. I also rode to the harbour to visit the Little Mermaid.

The second time I visited Copenhagen was in late April. Again, Mother Nature was doing her best to discourage outdoor activity. It was about 8 degrees, and it was windy and raining rather enthusiastically, which made it feel even colder. But the local cyclists were undaunted. During the morning and afternoon rush hours, the bike lanes were busy, and even in between they were well used.

Not only were there plenty of cyclists out and about, I was struck by the way they were dressed. Some of the women had bare legs or just thin nylons. Some of the riders had bare hands, although most wore what I would consider thin and inadequate gloves. Many had nothing on their heads. Of course, most of them were probably just riding a short distance to work, not spending the whole day riding around, as I was, but still...

So, a word of warning -- just because you read it in the Sun, you shouldn't necessarily believe it. 

Above photo: My rental bike from the Wakeup Hotel in Copenhagen. At first, I was nervous about parking my bike because I thought I might lose it among all the other bikes (hundreds) that were parked nearby. Fortunately, this bike has some identifying marks -- a bright green "wakeup" stamped on the frame, a green "503" on the back fender, and bright orange front forks.

The photos below were all taken on my trips to Copenhagen.

March 5, 2015 - 5 degrees Celsius. You just can't keep those Copenhagen cyclists off the streets!

Oh yes, one more thing... Gunther also discusses Amsterdam. I've been there, too, three or four times, and yes, the first time I inadvertently stepped into a bike lane and received hard stares from passing cyclists. But guess what? That happened to me in Vancouver's Stanley Park, too. As Dr. Suess might say: In cars or on bikes; in the rain, in the snow; people are people wherever you go. A bike lane is for bikes, after all. 

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