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  1. #1
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    American returns from Denmark with observations.

    Ok so I just got back from a business trip to Denmark. Of course I knew I was going to see tons of bikes but here are my observations of cycling there.

    1) Bikes everywhere, litterally. I couldn't figure out why they would leave many of them and not pitch them. Tacoed wheels, broken frames. Just piles of crappy bike lying around all over the place. Of course there were rideable bikes as well. Looked like no one in the country had ever heard of chain lube. Every drive train was rusted which I guess is why most bikes were either single speed or internally geared hubs. The 2 bikes I saw with a standard geared drivetrain were so rusted I can't believe they functioned very well. I even saw a woman...riding in the snow...on a bike with a wheel that was nearly a full inch out of true. I couldn't believe she could ride that bike.

    2) The law - WOW these people actually STOP for a stop sign or stop light...and they wait. In 4 days there I saw 2 people run lights and that is of litterally more than a thousand cyclists I saw.

    3) Helmets - what is a helmet? I saw a total of 6 adults wearing helmets but it did seem like the kids (all of them) riding in seats with their parents had helmets on. I didn't see anyone die so go figure.

    4) Bike lanes - ok anti bike lane people they have them and they sure seemed like a good thing to me. They had VERY nice system of bike lanes.

    5) The people - ok folks it was 0* F - 30* F for the most part. Day 1 had like 30-40 MPH winds. days 3 and 4 were snow...a lot of snow. People riding bikes everywhere even given the weather. I saw women in fur coats, I saw women in spiked heels, I saw men in fur coats , children, postal workers, everything you could think of, day and night riding bikes...and most of them on slicks even in the snow. One of the people I was there with used to be a racer and she said she was astonished by the handling skills and SPEED of these riders.

    6) The locks....or lack there of. Well at first it looked like no one locked their bikes but then I saw the little thing on the seat stays. It is a wheel lock the goes through the rear wheel when activated so the bike can't be ridden. Pretty cool and I would like to get one for my commuter, seemed to be great for running into a store or something like that. The other interesting lock I saw was a brake lock. The brake handle when squeezed locked in the full brake position, then there was a key to unlock the brake handle. Like the above for a quick stop if you don't want to carry a lock seemed like a good idea.

    So there it is. Feel free to ask any questions or comment. I thought it was great and made me want to ride my bike more. I did see a couple of cool bikes with interesting front carrier schemes that would be cool to have and a trike where there was a large basket in the front for kids...or packages I guess.
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  2. #2
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I've spent time in Copenhagen as a tourist. Yes, lots of bikes. I didn't notice that they were in bad condition, just well used.

    As to comment 6, see comment 1.

    I actually don't see folks blowing stop signs here any more than there, but perhaps for different reasons. There is also a lot more reason not to blow a stop sign if you are commuting surround my dozens of other riders as in Copenhagen. Around here (AZ) you don't blow them because cross traffic is usually fast/dense.

    There were so many interesting bikes, a wide variety. I took a lot of photos of bikes.

    I didn't get the sense that commuters there raced to locations, more of a purposeful ride. My brother lived there for several months and found cycling to be not as efficient/fast as he found in the US - partly because of so many other cyclists to deal with.

    Al

  3. #3
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    I was more commenting on the blowing stop signs and stop lights for our American readers. IMO most American cyclists see stop signs and lights as a neusance (sp). For the speed, clearly they weren't racing but they were moving pretty good. Most riders had a fairly upright riding position.
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  4. #4
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    I am sure that being a socialist state that they don't mind paying taxes that keep the bike lanes clean and free of broken glass.

    Can you tell us how wide the bike lanes were and if they were part of and adjacent to the road system or a seperate system and to themselves?

  5. #5
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Sure can but the answer wont tell you much. They had both depending on the road I would guess. The more substantial the road the more seperated the bike lane. a typical 2 lane road had the lane right there next to auto traffic. A 4 lane road in the city had it separated and out in Harlev (town near Copenhagen where we were doing our work) along a highway the bikes path was well removed from the road. Widths also varried but were at least 5' wide I would say, that separated path in Harlev was more like 15' wide to allow travel in both directions and it also had a sidewalk for pedestrians.

    I would really like to get back there during the summer and ride a bit.
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  6. #6
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grasschopper
    I was more commenting on the blowing stop signs and stop lights for our American readers. IMO most American cyclists see stop signs and lights as a neusance (sp). For the speed, clearly they weren't racing but they were moving pretty good. Most riders had a fairly upright riding position.
    racing = going as fast as one can, working up a good sweat and high heart rate
    moving pretty good = riding purposefully, maybe just below the threshold of heavy sweat

    I see stop signs and lights as a must to allow me to ride on the roads safety. Can you imagine if there were none (except perhaps in dense urban areas where that philosophy may work)

    Al

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grasschopper

    3) Helmets - what is a helmet? I saw a total of 6 adults wearing helmets but it did seem like the kids (all of them) riding in seats with their parents had helmets on. I didn't see anyone die so go figure.
    I suspect head injuries are low because most ride about as fast as one would on a beach cruiser. If you ride below 8 mph, a helmet may not be necessary. I doubt anyone was riding fast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grasschopper

    5) The people - ok folks it was 0* F - 30* F for the most part. Day 1 had like 30-40 MPH winds. days 3 and 4 were snow...a lot of snow. People riding bikes everywhere even given the weather. I saw women in fur coats, I saw women in spiked heels, I saw men in fur coats , children, postal workers, everything you could think of, day and night riding bikes...and most of them on slicks even in the snow. One of the people I was there with used to be a racer and she said she was astonished by the handling skills and SPEED of these riders.
    Were anyone wearing a full face mask? There is no way I would ride in those temps without a face mask.

    As for spiked heels, I've only seen that once in New York City and it was very attractive! ;-) I would love to move there but Denmark is colder than New York and I hate the weather in the North East. The Netherlands might be a different story.

    Did you see anyone using lights at night?

  9. #9
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Some had a scarf, some didn't, I think I saw one guy with a polypo style fact mask. No bacalavas. To reply to your helmet comment they were going much faster than 8 MPH even in the slippery snowy conditions (this was when I saw the adults with helmets though). When not in slush I would guess close to 20 MPH.

    Feel I should edit this. After riding to work I would guess their speeds were between 12-15 MPH, 20 would be pushing it.
    Last edited by Grasschopper; 03-04-05 at 08:55 AM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    I suspect head injuries are low because most ride about as fast as one would on a beach cruiser. If you ride below 8 mph, a helmet may not be necessary. I doubt anyone was riding fast.
    The speed of the head of an average size adult reaches 22mph before he/she hits the ground from a dead standstill on a bike.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grasschopper

    2) The law - WOW these people actually STOP for a stop sign or stop light...and they wait. In 4 days there I saw 2 people run lights and that is of litterally more than a thousand cyclists I saw.
    - - THANKS for the great report. Your thread complements the one from March 2nd:
    EU proposal to make motorist liable

    Seems too me that an EU type proposal would not work here because of the many US cyclists who are reckless and ignore the stop signs and traffic lights. Motorists cannot be held liable if the bicyclists do not obey the law.
    "The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well." Ivan Illich ('Energy and Equity')1974

  12. #12
    Ride the Road Daily Commute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 77Univega
    - - THANKS for the great report. Your thread complements the one from March 2nd:
    EU proposal to make motorist liable

    Seems too me that an EU type proposal would not work here because of the many US cyclists who are reckless and ignore the stop signs and traffic lights. Motorists cannot be held liable if the bicyclists do not obey the law.
    Yes they can. In no-fault insurance states, drivers are frequently held liable even when other motorists do not obey the law. Now, whether that's a good idea is another question.

  13. #13
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grasschopper
    Helmets - what is a helmet? I saw a total of 6 adults wearing helmets but it did seem like the kids (all of them) riding in seats with their parents had helmets on. I didn't see anyone die so go figure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    I suspect head injuries are low because most ride about as fast as one would on a beach cruiser. If you ride below 8 mph, a helmet may not be necessary. I doubt anyone was riding fast.

    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    The speed of the head of an average size adult reaches 22mph before he/she hits the ground from a dead standstill on a bike.
    Which is why helmets are tested for falls by a simple drop of a helmet containing a 5kg (11lbs) rigid headform from a height of 1.5 to 2.0 metres (a 300 gravity deceleration of the head is about the maximum impact the brain can withstand without serious injury) on a linear track impacting the top of the helmet where it is strongest, yet the side or front of the head is much more likely to be struck either in a fall or a collision. In addition, in the event of even a simple fall, there's not just the weight of the cyclist's head to consider but also the weight of the whole body as well. The 2 metre (6'8") drop simulates a 20 km/h (14 mph) impact, not 22 mph. Anything additional to this drop (like being accelerated before the drop, or hitting an object with a rotational force) would beyond the safety tested specifications of the helmet.

    But really, there's much more to cycling safety than just helmets. Acceptance and prevention is what's emphasized in Denmark, not harm reduction, and it works quite well. Here in NorthAmerica, the big problem seems to be neither cyclists nor motorists recognizing that cyclists have similar rights and responsibilities on the public roads as any other users. In the Netherlands, city dwellers travel by bike more than 25 percent of the time, and for each 100 million of those trips, 1.6 Dutch cyclists were killed in accidents. By contrast, U.S. city dwellers travel by bike less than 1 percent of the time and die at a much higher rate when they do: 26.3 bike fatalities for every 100 million trips.
    Last edited by closetbiker; 03-04-05 at 09:34 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grasschopper
    ...


    6) The locks....or lack there of. Well at first it looked like no one locked their bikes but then I saw the little thing on the seat stays. It is a wheel lock the goes through the rear wheel when activated so the bike can't be ridden. Pretty cool and I would like to get one for my commuter, seemed to be great for running into a store or something like that. The other interesting lock I saw was a brake lock. The brake handle when squeezed locked in the full brake position, then there was a key to unlock the brake handle. Like the above for a quick stop if you don't want to carry a lock seemed like a good idea.
    ...
    What I do, is I have a cable lock wrapped around my seatpost. I put it through the rear wheel when I am just running into the store or something. I suspect that most bike theft occurs when a person just rides off with a bike that is unlocked. I doubt they would bother carrying it off or something, especially in a fairly visible place and no other bikes around.

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    While you were in Denmark, did you visit a variety of towns and cities? I am curious whether the "bike culture" is equally strong everywhere.

    I have noticed here in Texas, for example, that Austin is a pretty good town for cyclists. I have never seen a single bike on the road in Fort Worth. (I'm sure there ARE bikes in Fort Worth...I just have not seen one). So, does the "bike culture" vary from place to place in Denmark?

  16. #16
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
    While you were in Denmark, did you visit a variety of towns and cities? I am curious whether the "bike culture" is equally strong everywhere.

    I have noticed here in Texas, for example, that Austin is a pretty good town for cyclists. I have never seen a single bike on the road in Fort Worth. (I'm sure there ARE bikes in Fort Worth...I just have not seen one). So, does the "bike culture" vary from place to place in Denmark?
    Good question but not one that I can help with. We were in Copenhagen and went to a town just outside (10-15 min train ride) of Copenhagen called Harlev. Lots of bikes both places.
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  17. #17
    Descends Like Avalanche HigherGround's Avatar
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    Very cool thread Grasschopper. Thanks for sharing!
    The rider in my avatar is David Etxebarria, not me.

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    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HigherGround
    Very cool thread Grasschopper. Thanks for sharing!
    I always like to see bikes being used in everyday errands and everybody giving bikes equal treatment as legitimate transportation (unlike some places, where the bicycle is considered different, dangerous and if used on the road, irresponsible).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    I suspect head injuries are low because most ride about as fast as one would on a beach cruiser. If you ride below 8 mph, a helmet may not be necessary. I doubt anyone was riding fast.
    Yeah, I'm sure in the entire nation not one person rides "fast."

  20. #20
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by galen_52657
    I am sure that being a socialist state that they don't mind paying taxes that keep the bike lanes clean and free of broken glass.
    Oh, I don't know for sure, but given the number of cyclists there, I'm sure the cost for sweeping the bike lanes clean is quite a bit less per commuter than we pay over here just to repave. Not to get political, but it's interesting that you mentioned a socialist state, and how much they were paying for the common transportation system--if that's a criterion for socialism, the United States is about as far left as they come.

    (No offense intended, but you really made me think with that one )
    No worries

  21. #21
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luciano
    Yeah, I'm sure in the entire nation not one person rides "fast."
    What about Bjarne Riis? He was fast.
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  22. #22
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Regarding helmets--when I cycled across Europe in 1984, I was literally laughed at for wearing a helmet. My sense that I was a one-man freak show was confirmed when a newspaper man in Austria popped out of his car and snapped a picture. I don't even want to think about what the caption might have read. Probably something like: "Dr. Livingston, you presume? No just an American on a bicycle."

    More recently, touring in the UK, I've noticed that maybe half of the touring or more "serious" cyclists wore helmets. I didn't feel like such a freak, but there is very much a non-helmet-wearing crowd in Europe.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member GeezerGeek's Avatar
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    I was in Denmark a couple of years ago and I agree with your observations. Here are some more.

    People that were going to work were wearing their work cloths (including skirts), riding bikes with wide seats, sitting upright for good visibility, and going slow. Do you think they go slow so they don't work up a sweat?

    Here is another observation. Because I just came from the states, my biological clock was still off by 7 hours so I was awake before dawn. Also, I work for a company that makes street sweepers so I notice cleaning equipment. At the crack of dawn or just before, the streets were swept every day that I was there. Not only swept, but swept fastidiously.

  24. #24
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackberry
    More recently, touring in the UK, I've noticed that maybe half of the touring or more "serious" cyclists wore helmets.

    Just curious - How did/do you decide which cyclists were/are "serious"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    Just curious - How did/do you decide which cyclists were/are "serious"?
    Good question. As I think about it, I may be making faulty assumptions based on spandex vs. street clothes and pricier road bike vs. less-expensive or older three-speed bikes. Come to think of it, I toured with this woman for about a week in the UK. She rode 40 miles a day and never wore a helmet or a scintella of contemporary cycling garb. But she definitely held her own with her older, heavier bike and her very attractive outfit.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

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