Copenhagen Part One
Posted on 06 May 2010
After what I felt to be too short a time in Holland, Eric and I hopped on a midnight train to Georgia. In fact, it was a train that left Utrecht Centraal at about 6:30pm and went overnight until Copenhagen. Georgia would have been cool but we had business in Copenhagen. Trains have got to be the most relaxing way to travel around the world, with a bike in hand of course. They can be fast or, like our overnight train, slow and meandering. We had a bottle of wine and and a cheese platter and with a stroke of luck no one else joined us in the sleeper cabin.
We made it in around 10:30am and immediately had to race off to the Biomega offices. We met Sussi, the other members of the Biomega team, and Mikael from Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic. Thanks to these websites Copenhagen, through North American eyes, is a cycling mecca. It is a place that cities all around the world try to emulate to some extent. It is an excellent model for all of us on this side of the pond.
Copenhagen can indeed be a model for North America. The city has some of the most cycled streets in the western hemisphere and statistics show that 1.1 million kilometres are traveled everyday by bike.
What makes this city great for cycling is the vast amount of cycling infrastructure throughout the city. This infrastructure is viewed as the best in the world and has been transplanted in many cities. In fact, Jan Gehl, a Danish urban planner, was hired to set a plan for New York´s cycling roadways. Copenhagen certainly has some of the best roads for cycling.
What Copenhagen has along with this fabulous infrastructure is a large amount of cyclists. It is this group that makes this infrastructure so essential and it is this aspect of Copenhagen's amazing cycling culture that we should attempt to match.
Despite the cars, Copenhagen is a breeze to bike through!
Anyway, after a great meeting with Mikael and Sussi we walked through the pedestrian street in old Copenhagen and back to the hotel. We met Sussi later for a fantastic meal at a fish restaurant in the meat packing district. The restaurant was very cool. It was a factory and not much had changed in the decor. No renovations had been done to fix the walls or the floors or the ceiling. The place was well heated though. Due to hygiene laws the kitchen had to be renovated but the dining room looked as though the chef were going to come out and gut the fish right there on the table and then feed you the insides off of a sharp knife. In the end it was an amazing dinner.
This was our first day in Copenhagen. Not as insanely busy as Holland but nonetheless inspiring and eye opening. Copenhagen is a place very attuned to the outside world. Their active role in hosting the climate conference is an obvious example, but what I saw was that the city has similarly wide streets and a fair number of drivers. It felt like a North American city to some extent.
This gave me hope for our own city. Maybe we can do like Copenhagen and blaze our own path of bike infrastructure........... with a sharp design sense of course.
Editors note: looking back now we really were the first bike store to take research trips to the bicycle cultures of Europe and the emerging bike cultures of North America. While many of the things we brought back were silly (both products and ideas) the stuff we learned from companies like Biomega or planners like Mikeal Colville-Anderson were the stuff that would help us clarify a uniquely North American position on what the market needed.
- February 2016