Danish Bicycle Culture

Confession time.  I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was seven or eight years old, which is far too old in my opinion (I also didn’t learn how to swim until I was 12, so I guess I was just a late bloomer).  Ask me to do a back flip on a four-inch wide piece of wood, and I could do it no problem.  Ask me to ride a bike? Uh-uh, don’t think so. Talk to you never.

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My house looked out onto a cul-de-sac where the neighborhood kids would often assemble and wreak havoc.  Except we were all well-behaved and would come home as soon as our moms called us in for dinner.  But whenever we heard the faint dinging of a bicycle bell, we would snap our helmets on, grab our bikes, and head to the cul-de-sac for some good ol’ shenanigans and high-jinks.  We were basically a bicycle gang.  I would join in too, only instead of zipping around on a bike like everyone else, I was scooting around on my snazzy razor scooter.

I had some of the best days of my life on that scooter but, alas, my ankles were covered in bruises from banging against the standing platform, and so my parents decided it was time for me to learn how to bike.

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This is exactly how I looked

Learning to ride a bike was hard for me; I couldn’t fully grasp the concept of brakes.  One time I ran into a lamp post.  Another time I saw a snake and didn’t want to run it over, so I sharply turned the wheel and scraped my elbows so badly that not even a Garfield band-aid could help. One time I was on a bike path and saw a cyclist coming towards me and I panicked and somehow drove into them.  Needless to say, don’t expect to see me in the Tour de France anytime soon.

Unfortunately for me (and everyone else in Copenhagen, sry), the bicycle culture in Copenhagen is WILD.  Owning a bike is equivalent to driving a car.  The bike paths – specially designated lanes on the street that are elevated and protected from vehicles by a curb – are as congested with bikes as the streets are with cars.  The cyclists will PLOW YOU DOWN if you walk in the bike lanes instead of the pedestrian lanes, ask me how I know.

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Every Dane that I have met has told me that the full Copenhagen experience begins when you get a bike.  Since I can’t speak the language, I figured I might as well try to immerse myself in their bike culture.  As one would expect, this city has an abundance of bike shops.  I went into the “Tiffany” of bike shops where the proprietor proudly showed me one of the 14 limited edition bikes designed for a silversmith.  It had a silver bell and a furnished leather seat and looked like a regular bike.  It sells for $3,200. I literally ran out of the store.

I met up with a cute, little Russian lady who was about my size after seeing her posting in a Facebook group designed for people selling their bikes.  She let me take her bike for a spin, at which point I drove it into a bicycle rack because I have short legs and couldn’t get on the seat fast enough.  I told her this, at which point she got offended. “You’re NEVER going to find a bike as good as this one.  This bike is a perfect fit for you.  You just need to try harder and make it work.” These are some of the encouraging words she said to me.  She kind of made it sound like I had just broken up with her and I would never find anyone like her to fill the void in my heart.

Long story short, I still don’t have a bike.  I still suck at biking and will be a menace on the bike lanes.  I am still paying a ridiculous amount for public transit, except I don’t actually know how much it is because I don’t know what the exchange rate is but everyone is telling me it’s expensive so I believe them.

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