Bikes, trikes and automobiles. Well, just bikes.
My first ever post. So be gentle.
I've just got back from the land of design, vikings and a brand of beer that maintains it's probably the best in the world; Denmark. The carefully designed chairs, the delicious hotdogs, the scale model of a Fafnar (Viking ship), the famous pastries; all of these were lovely but I'd like to talk about something else.
I was impressed by the cycling. Perhaps not as exciting as Tivoli, the world famous pleasure gardens but bear with me. Everyone rides a bike. Everybody. Old, young, business people, families, pets. Well, perhaps not pets but I saw at least two dogs in the baskets on the front of their owner's bikes.
In the centre of Copenhagen the streets are ideal for cycling as many are wide and straight and have been modified so that there are wide traffic lanes given over entirely to cyclists. There is strength in numbers and motorists seem used to the idea that they share the streets with cyclists.
The city even has a free bike scheme that means any tourist can pick up one of the clearly marked city bikes and use it to get around. I was told by a Danish friend though that it is apparently very uncool to be seen on one of these although quite why I never worked out. It might be because the Danish are stereotyped as design conscious and the city bikes really don't compare design wise with the enormous range of stylish bikes on offer. I don't know, this is me speculating wildly. Perhaps one of you has a better idea why it might be "uncool"?
All this cycling gives the city a human scale. By "human scale" I mean that one isn't reliant on cars to get around, that it is possible to travel under one's own power, that your surroundings are easy to navigate because they are literally at a scale you can understand . This really appealed to me. Although cycling may not work everywhere when it's supported it can change the character of a place, making it more accessible. What, where you live, is "human scale"?
In my home town, Brighton, cycling is increasingly popular and the city itself has been named a Cycling Demonstration Town which means much public money has been set aside to improve the access for cyclists within the city. People even use cycling as the basis for demonstrations. Not a demonstration I took part in but perhaps next time!
Compared to Copenhagen though it feels as though we are still lagging behind when it comes to supporting cyclists. On my cycle to the station in Brighton there are some cycle lanes but they are thin on the ground. At one point on the journey there is even a section of cycle lane that starts and ends apparently at random and is only about ten metres long. But things are changing and perhaps one day we will catch up. What provisions for cyclists are there in your country?
I'd like to end with a mini task for you. One early slang term for bicycle was "dandy horse", can you think what a "dandy" might be? Email and let us know.
Thanks for reading. I've put a few definitions for the words in bold below.
All the best, Matt
bear with To have patience with.
design conscious An awareness that products can be beautiful and functional.
speculating wildly I am infering on the basis of not much real evidence. I'm guessing.
public money Money from the government, money from tax.
lagging behind falling behind, not keeping up with.
thin on the ground This is a cliche meaning scarce, difficult to find.
provisions Supplies for use. In this case providing cycle lanes, education etc.
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