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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 05-02-08, 05:58 AM   #1
strangeseraph
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Copenhagen, City of Bikes!

I have never been to Copenhagen! I have never been out of my own backyard though either (Ontario). Have people here been to Copenhagen? What did you notice about the bike culture there, the services available for bikes!

And what can we do to make our own cities more like it?

Lets Talk! ^_^
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Old 05-02-08, 12:11 PM   #2
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Lee,
Have you seen this pair of blogs? Copenhagen Cycle Chic and Copehagenize

There is also the streaming webcam from Amsterdam...

Aaron
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Old 05-02-08, 03:48 PM   #3
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I have been to CPH and loved it because it is very bike friendly. People are on bikes all over the place and no one seems to care what kind of bike the other has. They are strictly for transportation. I live in Los Angeles which is damn nearly car capital of the world and will never be anything close to CPH so I can't answer your last question.
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Old 05-03-08, 01:35 AM   #4
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Been there. Loved it. Bike Utopia.
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Old 05-03-08, 01:38 AM   #5
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If you also like jazz then you'd love it in copenhagen.
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Old 05-03-08, 07:51 PM   #6
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I've actually never been to Copenhagen, but a guy from Copenhagen came to Seattle a couple of years ago and gave a talk about what they did, which I attended. Basically, their city government made a conscious, sincere effort to modify the infrastructure to encourage more public spaces and to get people out of their cars. They built a network of bike lanes that were slightly raised above the level of the roads, re-routed arterials (traffic calming), as well as a bunch of totally separate bike paths. It was totally a "build it and they will come" experience. People felt safer on their bikes, and it became more convenient to use them, so massive numbers of people started using them. $8.00/gal fuel prices provided an added incentive. In addition, Copenhagen is pretty flat. The speaker (I can't remember his name) emphasized that a lot of people in Copenhagen still owned cars; they just didn't use them in town, because it was cheaper, easier, and faster to use a bike. They decided to spend a ****load of money to get people out of their cars and went ahead and did it. Given the nature of our culture, I'm not sure we can replicate what they did. Well, actually I'm sure we can't. The City of Seattle is thrilled that almost 2% of the population commutes by bike now, and wants to increase it to 10%, and critics think that goal is too ambitious. The few new bike lanes that we got have been bitterly contested by local business and neighborhood groups. (Even a couple of my car-driving friends have become blatantly hostile to bikes, once they realized that improved bike infrastructure meant fewer lanes for them.) Meanwhile, something like 30% of people in Copenhagen commute by bike.

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Old 05-04-08, 07:03 AM   #7
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bragi,
You have it in a nutshell there...your 30% number is year round, in the warmer months that number can easily double! They also have an outstanding mass transit system. I read Copenhagenize on a regular basis and am constantly amazed. We also have to remember the history behind the movement. After WW2 fuel was in pretty short supply in most of Europe, but not in the US. The Danes also made the political decision to support alternative transportation. It wasn't with out it's critics, even today. What I find interesting is all the complaints we here from businesses and people about the bike lanes were heard over there, but they have proven them wrong.

And yet another thing to keep in mind, the standard of living in Denmark is one of the highest in the world.

Aaron
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Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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Old 07-27-08, 05:51 PM   #8
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Yup, http://www.copenhagenize.com/ and http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/ are both great sites. It's so refreshing to see places in the world where bicycling is seen as just another form of transportation.
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Old 07-29-08, 09:47 AM   #9
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Snapped in Copenhagen in early July this year:







My favorite is the Coffeeshop-on-wheels.
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Old 07-29-08, 10:30 AM   #10
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Has anyone else noticed that people that live in countries that have a bike culture can ride a bike in normal cloths? I know many of my fellow riders in our little town do as well but that hard core US bike rider seems to feel you can’t ride unless you wear Lycra and uncomfortable shoes. (Yes maybe this is a small rant.)

I think it might be because we, Americans, look at cycling more as a hobby or sport rather than as a form of transportation. I have no facts nor have I read any studies it is only a feeling from reading some of these forums and attending some local group rides. When I visited Africa you couldn’t tell who was riding a bike by what they were wearing but half of the time you can tell where I live.

Looking at how people from CPH seem to view bicycles it seems far more accepting. It would be nice if our cities adopted some of the same attitudes. As it is I often pick the stores where I shop by how easy it is to secure my bike and how wide the road to the stores might be so I am not rubbing shoulders with car mirrors.

Just to be clear I understand the comfort of Lycra Bicycle shorts and what bicycle shoes can do for your speed and distance. I am not attacking anyone who feels they can’t ride without them. IMHO
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Old 07-29-08, 08:15 PM   #11
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My town is set up for bike and golf cart commuting. Peachtree City, GA.

I can't stand all that tight-fitting bicycle clothing. I'll take my inefficient cotton shorts and t-shirts anyday. And my regular athletic shoes are just fine.
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Old 07-30-08, 05:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by bragi View Post
I've actually never been to Copenhagen, but a guy from Copenhagen came to Seattle a couple of years ago and gave a talk about what they did, which I attended. Basically, their city government made a conscious, sincere effort to modify the infrastructure to encourage more public spaces and to get people out of their cars. They built a network of bike lanes that were slightly raised above the level of the roads, re-routed arterials (traffic calming), as well as a bunch of totally separate bike paths. It was totally a "build it and they will come" experience. People felt safer on their bikes, and it became more convenient to use them, so massive numbers of people started using them. $8.00/gal fuel prices provided an added incentive. In addition, Copenhagen is pretty flat. The speaker (I can't remember his name) emphasized that a lot of people in Copenhagen still owned cars; they just didn't use them in town, because it was cheaper, easier, and faster to use a bike. They decided to spend a ****load of money to get people out of their cars and went ahead and did it. Given the nature of our culture, I'm not sure we can replicate what they did. Well, actually I'm sure we can't. The City of Seattle is thrilled that almost 2% of the population commutes by bike now, and wants to increase it to 10%, and critics think that goal is too ambitious. The few new bike lanes that we got have been bitterly contested by local business and neighborhood groups. (Even a couple of my car-driving friends have become blatantly hostile to bikes, once they realized that improved bike infrastructure meant fewer lanes for them.) Meanwhile, something like 30% of people in Copenhagen commute by bike.
I would modify that slightly to "build it and they will stay" or maybe "build it and they will come back". Denmark has always had a "cycling culture", but relatively recent (post WWII) gains in the standard of living and industrialization have slowly eroded the number of people riding. Some cities have spent a fair amount of money to reverse, or mitigate, this trend, with pretty good success.

I make this distinction (with which your speaker may disagree) because there isn't much of a cycling culture left in the US, and it would take some _serious_ political will to develop one, as you note.

On a side note, as for cars, most every family owns one, but not too many own two (from my unscientific observations). Cars are very expensive to buy (180% sales tax) and operate (gas is more like $10/gallon now), and since riding is so convenient, it is very rare that both spouses "need" a car to get to work or run errands.
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Old 07-30-08, 07:36 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
Has anyone else noticed that people that live in countries that have a bike culture can ride a bike in normal cloths? I know many of my fellow riders in our little town do as well but that hard core US bike rider seems to feel you can’t ride unless you wear Lycra and uncomfortable shoes. (Yes maybe this is a small rant.)

I think it might be because we, Americans, look at cycling more as a hobby or sport rather than as a form of transportation. I have no facts nor have I read any studies it is only a feeling from reading some of these forums and attending some local group rides. When I visited Africa you couldn’t tell who was riding a bike by what they were wearing but half of the time you can tell where I live.

Looking at how people from CPH seem to view bicycles it seems far more accepting. It would be nice if our cities adopted some of the same attitudes. As it is I often pick the stores where I shop by how easy it is to secure my bike and how wide the road to the stores might be so I am not rubbing shoulders with car mirrors.

Just to be clear I understand the comfort of Lycra Bicycle shorts and what bicycle shoes can do for your speed and distance. I am not attacking anyone who feels they can’t ride without them. IMHO
Completely agree. Here are two great links on the matter:
http://www.ski-epic.com/amsterdam_bicycles/
http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/2...ogy-folly.html
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Old 08-01-08, 08:51 PM   #14
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Copenhagen is the way it is because in Denmark the tax on cars is so high that it makes car ownership too costly for many, not because Copenhageners are more enlightened than us.

http://www.skovgaard.org/europe/denmark.htm
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Old 08-02-08, 02:29 AM   #15
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Copenhagen is the way it is because in Denmark the tax on cars is so high that it makes car ownership too costly for many, not because Copenhageners are more enlightened than us.

http://www.skovgaard.org/europe/denmark.htm
That is not really true. The big difference is that most Americans are much more concerned with status, much less egalitarian, and lazier. In Scandinavia, not so much perhaps in Denmark as farther north, people like exercise, they like being outside taking walks, swimming etc. Most people using cars to go to the store are at least a little bit ashamed of it. Everyone knows that walking or biking is better, when possible. NO ONE thinks biking or public transportation is for outcasts. It's just another mode of transport, that is often more convenient than cars. No one would bat an eyelid if they saw a high-ranking politician, a popular singer or a rich industrialist on the bus or train, or on a bike; it's just normal. So I submit that, at least in this sense, Scandinavians are more enlightened.
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Old 08-02-08, 02:34 AM   #16
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Has anyone else noticed that people that live in countries that have a bike culture can ride a bike in normal cloths? I know many of my fellow riders in our little town do as well but that hard core US bike rider seems to feel you canít ride unless you wear Lycra and uncomfortable shoes. (Yes maybe this is a small rant.)
I too agree completely, this has been my theory all along! There wouldn't even be a "car-free" forum in many European cities, because it is nothing special here. Riding a bicycle, or even commuting by bike, should not be a life-style choice, just a matter of taste.
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Old 08-04-08, 04:23 PM   #17
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That is not really true. The big difference is that most Americans are much more concerned with status, much less egalitarian, and lazier. In Scandinavia, not so much perhaps in Denmark as farther north, people like exercise, they like being outside taking walks, swimming etc. Most people using cars to go to the store are at least a little bit ashamed of it. Everyone knows that walking or biking is better, when possible. NO ONE thinks biking or public transportation is for outcasts. It's just another mode of transport, that is often more convenient than cars. No one would bat an eyelid if they saw a high-ranking politician, a popular singer or a rich industrialist on the bus or train, or on a bike; it's just normal. So I submit that, at least in this sense, Scandinavians are more enlightened.

That's painting a somewhat rosy picture, I would say. The Nordic capitals and larger towns are, like you wrote, relatively 'enlightened' places with public transportation. My current home town of Turku has a bike mode share of 11 %, bike lanes are always separated, spandex is seen only on training athletes and the majority of riders don't wear helmets. There's a car culture, too, and it can be pretty pervasive in places. Just see where the rally drivers come from in this world.

I'm originally from a small town that is currently the most motorized in Finland (I left when I was 18 but most of my family lives there). Let me tell you, people over there absolutely do see cars as status symbols and some even judge each other by their vehicles. The cars are small by US standards and there are very few SUVs, mostly because cars and gasoline cost about double the US prices. The 'impressive cars' are high-end Mercedes-Benzes and such. At the same time, there is a bicycle culture, too, and riding a bike to work is considered nothing unusual, but I have no doubt that the place would turn into a piece of Texas in no time if the taxes on cars and gas disappeared. The number of trips and kilometers driven in cars is rising in Finland, and at least I haven't seen statistics showing a US-like turn to decline. This is with gas at 1.5 euro/liter (8.9 dollars/gallon).

Also, young adults may 'like being outside', but at least in Finland they are not in particularly good physical shape and have been getting fatter rapidly in recent years. There's been public concern even in Sweden about lack of exercise and growing obesity, even though they are apparently the skinniest population in Europe.

It's true that using public transportation is not associated with class. There used to be stories about the British royal family looking down their noses (something at which they are no doubt the world experts) at the Danish and Swedish royalty, because they might ride bikes to the nearest shop. That was before everyone in the British royal family got divorced. (For the record, Finland is a republic.)
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Old 08-04-08, 04:35 PM   #18
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Lee,
Have you seen this pair of blogs? Copenhagen Cycle Chic and Copehagenize

There is also the streaming webcam from Amsterdam...

Aaron
Copenhagen Cycle Chic is better than porn!
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