Some notes on Danish Cycling Behaviour

Last Sunday I got a bike after having walked two hours to meet up with the buyer. As a Dutchman, I considered myself to be quite apt at biking and the girl’s sweet rundown of how biking works was therefore quite redundant. I am not some tourist haphazardly balancing on two wheels, hoping it would save me time….

Or so I thought.

Copenhagen is quite obsessed with their bike culture and as such they have taken good care of it. Whereas most of the town is quite liberal and particularly play-minded (bit of theory here: play is described as being rule-less whilst games are more structured and goal oriented), cycling is very much rule bound.So here are some notes about cycling in Copenhagen.

1. Cycle paths are blue
Minor difference and easily adaptable. Instead of the reddish-pink like paths in the Netherlands, cycle paths are blue.

2. (Nearly) every road has a bike path
Whereas in the Netherlands it is not unlikely for bikers to hit the general city road also used by cars, Copenhagen has supplied cyclists with bike paths next to nearly every road. That doesn’t necessarily make life easier though. These paths, especially in the center, are very busy.

3. Paths are directional
Instead of having paths that allow bikers to go two ways, Copenhagen has one path for each direction, on different sides of the road. While this makes riding easier, it’s not always clear how to get to the other path without riding in the wrong direction for a very short bit to reach a crossing. This leads me to the next point.

4. Cyclists work in Angles
Imagine you’re at a crossing and you want to go left. In the Netherlands you’d wait till your light is green ride forward a bit and then veer left. Do this in Copenhagen and you’ll summon the rage of many. In Copenhagen you first cross the crossing by going straight ahead. You stop on the other side and turn your bike left (often a couple of meters in front of the people who have to go left and are waiting for the traffic light). Now you wait, half parked on the road, till the light you can see turns green. This angular riding makes turning around on a crossing a time wasting affair for you have to go around the whole crossing…

5. The Signals
Hands left and right are still the same. But if you want to stop your hand must be raised in the air. Sounds easy enough. You also need to do this when you set yourself up to go left on a crossing. Hands everywhere.
The traffic lights are nice though. First of all, they’re everywhere. And second, when red, the orange light jumps on to signal that soon you can move. This gives you time to get going on a bike

In other words, Dutchies: ‘You know nothing’

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