The bike lanes of Copenhagen are so distinctively Danish they leave an impression on you as a tourist and even more so as a resident. I remember my arrogance upon arrival as a traveller in 2005 thinking I could just drag my suitcase behind me in a bike lane. After all it was so much easier than trying to navigate the cobblestones of Vesterbrogade! I was genuinely annoyed at the incessant ding ding of the bells of passersby on bikes ushering me out of their way. I remember thinking how rude. Now I cringe at the rudeness of my ignorant travelling self for failing to recognise the sanctity of the Copenhagen bike lane.
When we returned to Copenhagen to live in 2008, a dear Danish friend lent me her old bike. It was a true Copenhagener bike: large parcel basket at the back, deep basket at the front, and a sturdy reliable seat. Yes you can do your weekly shop on a bike and continue riding while 39 weeks pregnant no problems. The bike lanes are integral to Copenhagen life, even wearing a bike helmet was not required so as not to interrupt your commute to school or work.
It is here we discovered the amazing Christiania bike. These are the three wheel bikes with the box at the front. They are more popular now in Melbourne than before we left for Denmark; at the time they were such a novelty here. But in Copenhagen they’re the equivalent of the family car. You can fit two or three children inside easily and a full load of shopping.
Respect for bike lanes and their traffic is essential to life in Copenhagen. They were incredibly busy at peak times with an obvious rush hour around 4pm, as masses of bikes collected children, left work and took riders home. Pretty much everyone had a bike and would ride around, it has been this way in Copenhagen since bikes were invented, but official bike lanes have only been around since the 1980s. It is very egalitarian and it now seems unforgivable to interrupt this flow of life with the ignorant drag of a bulky suitcase.
So grab yourself a little bit of Copenhagen here!