Michael Andersen, Green Lane Project staff writer
We’re home from Copenhagen but sharing some remaining thoughts from this month’s study tour.
To Americans accustomed to seeing more bicycles on the road for recreational trips than transportational ones, Copenhagen can seem like a place where almost nobody is just out riding for fun.
But spend a little time in town and you’ll notice that hidden among the herds of people wearing skirts, jackets and sweaters on their daily errands are plenty of people geared up for longer trips or faster paces.
Lycra-clad atheletes, distance riders and trail lovers are actually common in and around Copenhagen. They’re just tucked among the tens of thousands of people using their bikes in other ways.
Head north of town along the Oresund strait on a Sunday, in fact, and you’ll see a constant stream of people (not to mention cute and pricy seaside homes) who’d fit right into Monterey County, California.
Lycra and carbon fiber are common here on the generous protected bike lanes here along the Danish coast. Men and women out for “sport cycling” (as the Danes tend to call it) enjoy the sea breeze next to recrational riders of all ages, headed to the beach or just out for the sun and air.
The difference from most of the United States is that when a truck rumbles past, sport cyclists here don’t have to bat an eye. The ten-foot-wide protected bike lanes that let them easily pass family cargo bikes also let them ride and chat at pace without worrying about who’s bearing down from behind.
And here’s the other thing about Copenhagen’s north coast. This is how the sport cyclists, as well as the recreational-riding couples and families and yours truly, got from the heart of the city to the seaside:
That’s a world-class protected bike lane on each side of the main route north, seamlessly moving thousands of Copenhageners a day into the countryside.
Here’s another view. Can you spot all 15 bike riders in this picture?
And by the way, this is what the first cafe you reach on the way back into town looks like around noon on a Sunday:
And this is from the first significant commercial district:
Getting a drink and a bite after a morning ride with your bike crew is a universal joy. Having a visually beautiful and completely stress-free route to rural recreation running all the way from the central city through its suburbs and into the countryside is less universal, sadly.
Watching people of all ages and abilities mix on the protected bike lanes of Denmark’s coast, it’s easy to see where Denmark’s next generation of lycra lovers are coming from. When the time comes to suit up and head out with their crew, they will have already been enjoying these routes all their lives.
The Green Lane Project helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets. You can follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook or sign up for our weekly news digest about protected bike lanes. Story tip? Write [email protected]