Monday, 14 September 2009

I bike CPH


photo courtesy of Elisabeth Plank
text by Adrian Iacomi

I bike CPH, you bike CPH, we all bike in Copenhagen, because here this is the verb to conjugate at the present as simple as possible tense. If I were to describe my adoptive city with one single one word (except the beer), that is bike. Bike to work, bike to school, bike to the beach, bike in the sun (this one not to often), bike.. In the rain, to the pub, crawling on two wheels back from the pub, to your fist date, to the airport to pick up your lady, to take the kids to kindergarden and back from high school and so on.

In Copenhagen, BIKE is the word. Which even if you don’t like in the beginning, you’ll have to endure it or get used to it. To put it in different way ... if you’re danish and you don’t have a bike you’re weird, or well.. filthy rich so you can afford using the public transportation.

As a foreigner you will be struck by the number of bikes in circulation all over the place. And if you’re still used to the urban biking concept and you’re coming from Berlin or even better .. Amsterdam, you’ll find an awkward over-organized bike road system, and.. Yes.. When people are raising their hand it doesn’t mean they’re friendly or that they want to wave. No No No ... and don’t laugh.. They just signal that they want to stop :).
Probably this is the most striking difference between CPH and the other Top 10 biking cities => in Copenhagen people obey the driving rules and are very peaceful bike drivers, even if they definitely lack some genuine skills, but in their own special way they survive by obeying in a almost boring way the rules. And if you see a danish blonde tall girl just crossing on the red light, she’s dutch.

Still what makes people use the bikes? I mean it’s raining almost all the year, it’s pretty cold and mostly windy. If you’re biking in the city or to one of the secret beaches, you’ll notice that this is the famous (for sailors at least) Baltic sea wind. Which as any demon wind will most likely blow in your face, and buy no means from behind.
So, for now there are not too many reasons to bike around here.
But let’s look deeper into this subject:
Car taxes.. Yes.. These are HUGE, so for the money you’re buying in Germany a new Passat, here you’ll get a forth hand Polo with no genuine leather. And the parking costs a lot, and the gas.. and you got the picture. You’re not very encouraged to get a car around here.
Second reason, and a very painful one, it’s the price of public transport, which is a type of luxury. As in Denmark you have buy far the most expensive public transport from all UE.
Not so many cool reasons to bike until now :(

But, there are a lot of people that are having cars and still they bike, and well .. This is the main reason.. Biking is cool :) yes it is, danes love to bike, it’s healthy and there are plenty of nice bike roads around here. So you’ll start to ride to kindergarden in the seat of your mother’s bike.. and soon you’ll be on your way to work wearing a loose tie and the cute slim MacBook on your back. And yes.. You’ll love it, or at least I do :).
Don’t be afraid of flat tires, rain, cold and the bloody wind ... These will just make you enjoy more all the other days ;)

This what I think and feel about biking in CPH after one year of using the bike almost daily, despite the friendly weather, as friendly as huge noisy fly, blown of course in your face by the warm and cosy wind ;)  

romanian version on


  1. Ah, mi-a ajuns la suflet postul tau. Happy biking in wonderful K.!

  2. Very nice description of the Danish bike mentality...
    I do think that under the surface the Danes are more rebellious than you think, or maybe that's just what we want to think. Hm.. :)

    //a Dane

  3. Thank you :) ... time passed, and I started to get a little deeper :) into the danish culture (I hope)