For some reason, I have
always wanted to live in Denmark. Even before I discovered Green Kitchen
Stories, I was semi-obsessed with Scandinavian countries and considered
applying for exchange to either Denmark or Sweden during my undergraduate
degree. It turns out that unless I magic some credit points out of somewhere,
my degree doesn’t really lend itself to exchange. When I first realised this I
was disappointed but, as a result, I’m even more excited than ever for when the
opportunity for travel presents itself.
I think one of the things
that attracted me to Denmark in particular was not the Lego (for 5 years all I
wanted for Christmases and birthdays was the newest Harry Potter Lego set) but
the quaintness of riding bikes everywhere. However, by no means am I a cyclist…
I have a theory that I am genetically predisposed to be slow and awkward on a
bike, a theory which I began to develop at the age of 10 when I went on my
first training-wheel-free ride and promptly crashed into a car that was parked
2m from the entrance of our driveway. Nearly a year before this, I had attended
a road safety information session at a bike place of sorts as part of a school
excursion. Of the 90 grade 4s, I was one of two who still had training wheels.
I think it was this outing that inspired me to ask my parents for a bike and
request lessons from Dad. They bought me a metallic purple Malvern star and a
dorky red and black helmet, both of which I still use to this day; I love the
bike but really wouldn’t mind a new helmet.
Whenever I hop on my bike
to do a bit of shopping or to visit my grandma who lives a couple of kilometres
down the road, I can’t help but think “WHY”. Each turn of the pedals hurts my
legs and I still hobble for a good 5 minutes after getting off, no matter how
short the ride. So why on Earth do I like the idea of riding bikes everywhere
as they do in Copenhagen, Denmark? I have absolutely no idea! :-D
Social class, weather,
dress code and destination are irrelevant for Copenhageners – apparently 50% of
them commute on two-wheelers every day. There are even more bikes in the city
than residents. Australian cyclists would surely turn green if they heard that.
In the capital city alone, there are 400km of bike lanes with assigned traffic
lights, including the world’s busiest which hosts up to 40k cyclists a day.
This is all part of the city’s goals of becoming the first carbon neutral
capital city in the world by 2025.
Some useless trivia about
Copenhageners and their bikes:
63 % of all members of the
Danish parliament commute daily by bike
50 % of all Copenhageners
commute to work or study by bike.
35 % of all who work in
Copenhagen, including people who live in the suburbs and neighbouring towns but
work in Copenhagen, commute to work by bike.
25 % of all families with
two children in Copenhagen have a cargo bike they use to transport young
children to kindergarten, for grocery shopping, etc
In total Copenhageners bike
1.2 million kilometres a year, i.e. two trips to the moon and back (this is in
contrast to the 660,000km travelled by Copenhageners by Metro)
The busiest biking lane in
the world is Dronning Louises Bro in Copenhagen
Copenhagen was elected Bike
City 2008 – 2011 by ICU.
Before I read the article from which I
obtained these figures, I don’t think I had heard of a cargo bike before. You might
even accuse me of living under a rock, for it seems as though they are becoming
quite a big deal internationally. I
can’t say I’ve seen any being ridden around my neighbourhood but maybe that
will change in the future. They certainly look like a lot of fun, not to
Without beating around the bush, let me
just come out and say that I’m terrified. Terrified of the future and what the
world is going to be like in 10 years time. I have been terrified since I was
10 years old, when I started to research the topic ‘weather’ for a school
science project. Probably, only three or four years ago, I became 100%
convinced that I need to find some land somewhere and bunker down before
climate change seriously impacts the world we currently live in. The Mayans may
have been wrong about the end of the world coming in 2012, but I’m sure they’re
not far off it; I’m sure they are more accurate than the episodes of Doctor Who
depicting the human race in the year one hundred trillion AD. It may seem insignificant
in the grand scheme of things but I really believe that the Danes and their
goal for carbon neutrality through bicycle transport is a step in the right
direction. The future is full of unexpected things. Maybe the survival of the
human race will be one of those?