Special Report: Cycling

A Hamilton Family Discovers Cycling in Copenhagen

We recently visited Copenhagen, the capital of cycling today. What a place! There are bikes everywhere.

By Matt Jackson
Published July 29, 2014

We recently visited Copenhagen, the capital of cycling today. What a place! There are bikes everywhere. Everyone rides into the city and back. All ages, both sexes, all people.

Biking in Copenhagen
Biking in Copenhagen

We have not seen a chubby Dane yet. Danes appear in great shape and it doesn't seem to matter whether they are wearing jeans, shorts, skirts, or a suit - they all bike.

Here is a photo of the double-levelled parking of bikes at Norreport Metro Station in Copenhagen. There are so many bikes they have to create an upper level of storage. It has to be seen to be believed.

Two-level bike parking at Norreport Metro Station, Copenhagen
Two-level bike parking at Norreport Metro Station, Copenhagen

Bike Lanes Built with Intent

Have you ever biked along those bike lanes in Hamilton that are about two feet wide and then suddenly come to an end? You suddenly have to compete with cars in the right hand lane as both rider and driver are confused about who should occupy the road.

No such confusion here in Copenhagen! The bike lanes here were built with intent, and cars and bikes are clearly separated. Check out these pics. No cars parked in the bike lanes and some bike lanes even have a curb or median that separates cars and bikes.

Dedicated bike lanes in Copenhagen
Dedicated bike lanes in Copenhagen

Makes biking easy and safe. It is the quickest way to get around. Danes joke they can't afford a car, but they are not talking about the cost, they're talking about the wasted time in traffic.

Cykelslangen

So, a friend sent me a picture of an orange bike bridge here in Copenhagen (see the article below) and it really captured my imagination - not only the fact that a government would boldly fund a bridge over water just for bikes, but that they would make it so obvious by painting it bright orange!

Cykelslangen: The Orange Snake
Cykelslangen: The Orange Snake

Affectionately known as "The Orange Snake" the bridge links one side of Copenhagen with another. It is well used as there is a large shopping mall on one side.

The bridge was built because this area was such a popular bike route and locals had to walk their bikes up steps. The orange snake winds its way through the shopping centre and looks great.

There's a great article in The Guardian on the subject:

Infrastructure works the same for cars and for bikes: if you build it, they will come. We are in an ongoing struggle for space in Copenhagen, with an unfair amount of it still reserved for cars, but every cycle bridge and bike lane is a win. And more bike bridges are on their way. Once you cross one, there is no going back: you start dreaming of more.

The bike is the Copenhagener's preferred method of transportation, creating pressure for more and better infrastructure. Fortunately, the city is picking up the pace, connecting the dots and thinking in continuous bike lanes. They call these safe corridors "super bikeways", but really all they are is just road space for bikes. Elevated or not, no city should be without it.

Family Trips on Pedal Power

Imagine making the school run or taking a trip to the park in one of these beauties.

Christiana bike
Christiana bike

No parking tickets, no gas stops. Christiania bikes (named after that area of Copenhagen) are a favourite among families in Copenhagen, with 25 percent of families with two or more children using this mode of transport to propel their family around the city.

These bikes can carry up to four children and are often decked out with stickers, sun shades, and oversize bells. They are easy to manoeuvre and can be seen rolling through the streets with passengers or other cargo at all times of the day.

This one even has a parasol
This one even has a parasol

Originally published in series on Real Men Hamilton.

Matt Jackson lives and works in downtown Hamilton. He enjoys biking around this great city and hanging out with friends and family. Matt writes a regular bike blog at www.realmenhamilton.tv and helps run bike ride meet-ups around Hamilton.

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By byron zorzos (anonymous) | Posted July 29, 2014 at 07:13:24

The awe and wonderment come through in these words and pictures. Looks like we will have some invigorated cycling enthusiasts here in Hamilton upon their return. Get the paint cans ready!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:48:43

Obligatory mention of the lack of helmets. Apparently you don't need them quite so much when the entire city isn't trying to crush you under a tonne of metal.

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By Shut up. (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2014 at 05:52:39 in reply to Comment 103581

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2014 at 09:43:26 in reply to Comment 103648

Oh my God, cyclists are prone to using hyperbole, just like every other blogger on the entire internet! You might almost think they're human beings with human patterns of speech and normal foibles.

Next you'll tell me they have souls, the horror.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 31, 2014 at 08:41:31 in reply to Comment 103648

dead wrong. Many drivers have exactly the mindset of running cyclists off the road. I was almost hit by one last week and saw an elderly couple almost hit yesterday by one. In both cases, the guys (It's always males I've noticed too) were driving along normally until they saw a cyclists way ahead and then went bonkers. In my case, after catching up to the driver and having a brief exchange, I watched where he want next and realized he had driven completely out of his way, down a street he previously had no intention of going down just to gun it inches from my elbow. Last night I watched the whole thing unfold in horror expecting the elderly couple to be run over. Driver was fine until he saw them half a block ahead on Locke S (Locke S was my incident too). He got this crazy look in his eye and almost hit an oncoming car in his rage to scream as humanly close as possible past this couple and yell at them. When you're INTENTIONALLY aiming to miss human beings by a mere 2 inches, it is absolutely intentional when you hit them and kill them. Then you pay your $500 and move on to the next victim. Sadly, I've noticed how close drivers roar past me on the Hunter bike lanes until they hit the small bollard section. Then they all slow down and move further away. More worried about scratching their car than hitting another human.

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By Mark-AlanWhittle (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2014 at 15:00:42

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By maw maw (anonymous) | Posted July 29, 2014 at 17:40:48 in reply to Comment 103583

Why don't you find something to hate-on that actually is a detriment to the citizens of Hamilton instead of picking on a project that cost zero dollars from municipal taxes and will benefit thousands if not tens of thousands of citizens?

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By wam wam (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2014 at 05:53:42 in reply to Comment 103600

...but is funded through our other taxes. Don't you get it? NOTHING IS FREE.

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By we pay anyways (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2014 at 07:58:19 in reply to Comment 103650

No one said it was free, but we are funding metrolinx regardless of what projects we get. I suppose we should just throw our hands up and tell the province we don't want ANY money spent in Hamilton? That's your big plan?

This project is an absolute bargain. Anyone looking for something to rail against should take a look through the city's roads budget. Most individual road maintenance projects are worth more than the entire bike share system. And then come directly from our local taxes.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2014 at 17:23:03 in reply to Comment 103583

Or, you know, just in time for 20,000 university students to return to the City.

Just in time for Supercrawl.

Just in time to enjoy fall rides down Cannon Street.

But you hope it succeeds, right?

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 29, 2014 at 17:44:10 in reply to Comment 103598

dont. take. bait.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-07-29 17:44:26

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted July 29, 2014 at 19:48:16 in reply to Comment 103601

I just can't help myself. I know I shouldn't.

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