CYCLING THROUGH COPENHAGEN
When visiting Copenhagen, forget the Metro or ‘just walking around’ – it’s time to get yourself some wheels and jump on a saddle. Bicycle culture is a major part of everyday life in Copenhagen with more bikes populating the city compared to people and over 350 kilometres of cycle tracks complete with dedicated traffic lights that provide cyclists right of way over cars. All in all, cycling from point A to point B is fast, easy, convenient, relatively cheap and generally good for the soul.
In a country where everything is done with three basic principles in mind (practicality, functionality and elegance) it isn’t difficult to see how they have developed their cycling infrastructure so perfectly, so that even visitors (me, and potentially you) who haven’t ridden a bicycle in quite some time can take to it like a duck to water. On a side note, if you do feel a little rusty probably best to avoid the morning and afternoon commuter rush hour.
As in true Copenhagen style, there is a functionality to cycling which most other cities/cultures/people don’t share. Here it is all about the destination, there is no such thing as going for a ‘nice ride’ - you just go where you are going and hey, you’re cycling around this beautiful city, so it will be a ‘nice ride’ anyway. On the other side of the spectrum you also won’t find any (or many) spandex clad speed racers out for their weekly man bonding session while reacting the Tour-de-France. The locals don’t do cycle gear and they don’t ride just for the fun of it, it is purely an object to get from A to B (and back again). Anyway, I think you get the idea.
So, in terms of actually doing this, first step – acquire a bike. A lot of hotels will have bikes for their guests and many Airbnb hosts will also rustle some up. Alternatively, there are lots of rental shops and the infamous Bycyklen electric city bikes. We opted for the Bycyklen electric city bikes and although yes, you do look like a massive tourist riding one but (and it is a big but) these bikes were designed for visitors and therefore they are so damn convenient and easy to use. My favourite thing about them was they have a built-in tablet with GPS directions, so instead of fumbling down the streets and killing the flow of the other cycle traffic (which FYI is not socially acceptable in this neck of the woods) I was able to follow my “turn left in 150 metres” almost elegantly and ride along as though I had some clue as to how to get where I was going. These bikes are literally all over the city, so they are really easy to dock when you are done and also lock when you are just stopping somewhere for a browse. They also have automatic lights (riding at night wasn’t as scary as I was anticipating) and because they are electric they give you a little push along, so you really don’t exert too much energy at all. The only downside is you do have to make an account (well I guess that would have been expected, right?) so you can walk up to any bike on a docking station and login to start using it or if you are extra fancy, you can download the app and pre-book your bike. Plus, they can get super expensive so keep an eye on how much you are spending on your bookings. At the end of the day it really comes down to how much you want to blend in, how confident you are on a bike and the strength of your directional skills whilst on two wheels. All of that aside it doesn’t matter which way you go, as long as you are doing it on a bike, because that is how it is done in Copenhagen.