It’s not that it’s impossible to push a bike up a set of 10 steps to get to a walkway. However, by placing small yet irritating barriers in a city’s transport network, bikers are less likely, which means more drivers, more pollution and more greenhouse gas emissions.
When I first got here, I saw bikes as a homogenous entity – two wheels, a frame and handlebars. Many sport a basket reminiscent of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. However, as I started walking all around the city, I came to see that Copenhagen has as many kinds of bikes as there are lifestyles.
There’s the functional bike that is the cycling transport mode for many, pictured here in the Danish version of a parking lot –
There’s the bike with child seat in back, which is likely familiar to many back home:
and ones with a child seat in front, which was a first for me.
Finally, and this is my hands-down favorite, there is the Danish version of a mini-van with most of the family accounted for on just three wheels, not four:
I have yet to get on a bike myself – spending time observing the negotiations and advocating for strong policies while attending two different clean-energy tours have left almost no free hours to date – but I am eager to try and hop on one before leaving at the end of the week. The benefits of such a bike-friendly culture are numerous and laudable: healthier people as a nation, reduced transport expenses for individuals and a lower carbon footprint for Denmark and the world. When cities in the States undertake urban planning and re-development processes, having a robust alternative transportation component is critical. If you include bike-friendly components into the process, you get healthier people and a healthier planet in the bargain!