The Danish bikers

danish bikerThere are a lot of cyclists in Denmark. Most of those cyclists seem to use their bikes for utilitarian purposes like shopping, going to work, or going out.

I’ve visited Copenhagen and I don’t remember seeing one cyclist wearing biking specialized clothes or shoes. The Danes I saw just rode around wearing whatever it was they needed to wear for work or play without regard for biking.

Generally, the bikes in Denmark are comfortable, they’re built to be ridden in a position similar to sitting in a chair. Most of the bikes have fenders, and their chains are completely enclosed in the chain guard which cuts out most of the mess cyclist incur. Bike lanes are common and well laid out. Basically, the “perceived effort” of riding a bike is so low that everyone does it.

What about the “bikeconomics?” There’s lots of research demonstrating the social, economic, environmental, and health benefits of urban cycling. Danish studies claim that for every kilometer cycled, society enjoys a net profit of 23 cents, whereas for every kilometer driven there’s a net loss of 16 cents.

Last year, 2014, Danes peddled about 3.5 billion kilometers, almost 10% more than the year before. All those kilometers work out to 8,000 trips to the moon.

Many of the cyclists I saw in Copenhagen looked like they might be on their way to an appointment at a modeling agency. Maybe it’s their genes or the high quality of Danish life but some it is also due to riding their bikes everywhere.