I made it. It’s 9:30 am here and I’m writing this blog post after a delightful 8 hours of sleep! (Take that, jet lag.) I’m also sipping a cup of coffee.* Spirits are high!
Yesterday was my first full day in Copenhagen and so far I’m blown away. This really is bicycle heaven. Biking here is especially meaningful for me—and would be to anyone who regularly commutes by bicycle in an American city—because, well, it doesn’t mean all that much. Commuting on a bike here isn’t a political statement. It’s just a practical way to get around the city. In the same way that American car drivers don’t identify as “drivers,” Copenhagen transportation officials report that Copenhageners don’t feel that their decision to bike to work or school contributes to their personal identity. Conversely, in most social circles in the US, bike commuting makes you the token “biker” and it says something about who you are. I don’t think most people want their transportation choices to factor into their identity—perhaps this is one of the many barriers to higher rates of cycling in the US?
The number of women, children, and seniors I’ve seen on bikes here is astounding. You don’t need to be fearless, aggressive, crazy, or clad in reflective gear to bike in this city. Copenhageners don’t wear Lycra, clip-in shoes, or helmets when they bike. They wear their street/work clothes and they have great style. I’ve heard several times that you know when cycling is an accepted and respected form of transportation in a city when you see women riding bikes with heels on. As I watched the evening commute, I’d say that every third or fourth woman had heels on. I’m going to try and snap some photos today of cycling fashonistas, but if you are interested in checking out some flattering—and even (gasp) sexy—cycling looks you should visit Mikael Colville-Andersen’s Cycle Chic blog. (I’m hoping to meet with Mikael sometime next week.)
I spent most of yesterday participating in a charrette organized by members of an iSustain study mission. The focus of the charrette was to apply lessons learned from Denmark to develop solutions for enhanced bicycle and pedestrian mobility in Seattle. I’ll dedicate another post to all the fascinating things I learned at this event. For now, I’m going to hit the streets and explore more! Here are a few of the pictures I’ve taken in CPH so far.
*Please note that the coffee I’m drinking is not nearly as good as Café Ladro coffee made in either the east or west kitchen coffeemakers at Cascadia Consulting Group. And nothing beats Patrick Malloy’s “jet fuel.”