When in childhood, my grandpa and grandma would teach me all kinds of various activities, such as cooking, sewing, swimming, riding a bike or setting up a fire with two stones. The only thing I haven’t learnt yet is swimming. I am happy I learnt how to ride a bike, as that is pretty useful in Denmark. Though some friends of mine still don’t know how to.
In Denmark you can see all kinds of people on the bike: a student rushing to lectures, a young girl with a short skirt and stilettos as well as a businessman with a suit going to work. It doesn’t matter who you are, how much do you earn or where are you going; everybody has and rides a bike in Denmark. In Copenhagen more than 50% of all inhabitants use their bikes every day…
Before starting the whole “must-ride-a-bike-in-Denmark” discussion, I have to mention two simple facts comparing my homeland and Denmark, which are worth mentioning;
Fact nr.1: cars in Lithuania are cheap and every student has one.
Fact nr.2: cars in Denmark are incredibly expensive and therefore (nearly) no one has one.
Since cars are expensive, the solution is pretty simple: bus (if you live far away) or a bike (99.9% of all possible cases). The reason why Denmark has become a biking nation is pretty obvious: it’s healthy, convenient, cheap and green. And Danes are all of the listed: healthy, seeking for convenience, interested in saving money and green. Having said that, you can make a pretty simple conclusion: no matter what kind of weather it is, everyone rides bikes. In summer, autumn, winter, spring. When it raining, when it’s snowing and when it’s slippery. Even when raining, snowing and slippery at the same time. Everyone rides bikes. Real Danes don’t buy cars. To be honest, it is kind of shameful to have a car since you seem like a lazy ass in others eyes. Danes are fit, sporty and ride bikes whenever they can. And, unlike in my home country, when Danes have families, they just get longer-larger bikes for 2 or 3 people or simply get a “trolley” for the kids instead of getting a car.
Bikes for tourists
The whole Denmark is famous for its biking culture. In 2008, Copenhagen was voted the “Best city for cyclists” and ”World’s most liveable city”. If you are a tourist in need of feeling the Danish bicycle culture and lacking a bike, government has thought about you: you can use City Bike which you will find in one of the most “important” and visible spots in the city: by the city hall, by trainstation and so forth. Inserting a coin of 20kr you can get a city bike, use it and deliver it to the most convenient placement in the city as well as get the money back. So it’s free and you can be saved from using buses and most of all cars, which Danes are not very keep on anyways. You will also save 20kr – the amount you would use for using a bus.
My only love = Bike
When my fellows in Lithuania are buying and being proud of their relatively good BMWs in their 20ies, my classmates in Denmark are proud of their bikes (not only classmates, but sometimes even their older parents, too). They love their bikes. They sometimes even talk to them (my classmate has a pink flowery bike called Molly…). They wash them constantly, clean their “wheel” and the seat with the wipe, put a soft seat on, put a special plastic cover when it rains and decorate the whole bike with some funny applications or flowers.
As I was thinking “why” for about a couple of weeks right before I started uni, as soon as I started going to lectures I realized the need of decoration pretty quickly: you simply cannot find your bike in a “parking lot” by the uni if it is not any different than others. As simple as that.
Welcome to university. Try finding your bike…
The magical pick-up like
When I just came to Denmark, it seemed a little weird that men in their late 20ies and beginning of their 30ies wouldn’t have a car. It is the time we all start earning relatively good money – so to me, foreigner from Baltics it seemed really weird that majority of men would ride bikes. Besides that, I remember my classmate complaining about guys with no cars. She explained the inconvenience she faced: you meet a guy, you get interested and he has no car. For her, it seemed a little weird that a man she would talk to and flirt a little would not be able to drop her home simply because he would not have a car. Yet if you don’t become shocked after you hear a sexy “let’s go get my bike…” pick-up phrase and agree to be “driven” home on a back of his bicycle, you can sit, hug him and he would drop you home with pleasure.
Some things to remember if you are about to Denmark soon or if you just came to live here:
*Real Danes don’t drive cars
* Everyone rides bikes
* Everyone knows how to ride a bike
* It’s shameful not to know how to ride a bike
* Everyone takes care of their bike
*And yeah, pretty much everyone rides bikes :)
If you live in Copenhagen and want to learn how to ride a bike, check out a Free Bicycle Course.