Step one foot in the streets of Copenhagen and you'll immediately have a cultural revelation. That that foot might get run over by a bike whizzing by. Most would not classify 3-speed, Mary Poppins-style bike riding as an extreme sport, but for someone who's not used to the lightning-paced commuter cycling world of Copenhagen, I'm gonna make that leap.
To put things in perspective, Copenhagen alone has approximately 250 miles of dedicated bike lanes (that's just in Copenhagen let alone the rest of Denmark), the busiest bike lane in the world (with 36,000 cyclists passing through daily), and about 50% of its residents commute to work or school by bike. Adults, at the helm of what look like Good Humor ice cream carts, carry everything in their cargo bikes from groceries to their kids. The city even supplies free bikes with a deposit at designated areas. Biking is truly part of the cultural landscape here. And it was time for me to pick a lane and go!
My foray into biking couldn't have come a moment too soon as I almost caved in to buying a brace for my constantly twisted ankles from walking on cobblestones. In sneakers! First step: bike tour.
I had already seen all the sights on the bike tour by foot but just figured there's safety in numbers. But while the tour group stayed in a perfect line, used hand signals, and followed the person's lead in front of them, the locals raced by, bells-a-ringing, and just beating the bike lane traffic light. I was really going to have to up my biking bravado.
With a rental from across the canal, it was time to go it alone. Sticking first to emptier side streets, I eventually managed to merge into the heavy flow of Copenhagen's equivalent of the 405 freeway. I felt like a local engulfed by the stylish bike riding masses!
A good start to the hundreds more miles of bike lanes to explore in this country.
Car and bike traffic signals. Yikes!
Bike racks full at Nytorv square
Double decker bike parking in the busy city center