By Marilee Tuite, CTS assistant librarian
Danes are the happiest people on the planet, according to a recent World Happiness Report. After spending nine days there in June, I understand how cycling infrastructure may contribute to this happiness and why the term “Copenhagenize” means planning to encourage cycling.
My husband and I had a DIY plan to bike an average of 25 miles per day to experience this small country, with a little help from the DSB train network. Renting a 7-speed bike was relatively easy and affordable. We brought our own helmets and bike lights.
Cycling in Copenhagen and its environs felt safe at all times of the day. In most parts of the city—not just the city center—the bike lanes are wide for passing and could accommodate three bikes across. The width seemed really generous, but then we saw it was necessary at a stoplight during a packed, yet orderly, rush hour. Bike lanes are located between the road and pedestrian sidewalk. I didn’t see many boulevards, which tend to be used in Minneapolis winters for piling snow. Another observation was that cyclists and motorists follow traffic rules without tension toward each other.
It was inspiring to see endless bikes parked on racks. When we attended an outdoor screening of a World Cup match, there were so many bikes that we had to find a tree to lock up our rentals.
The Cyklistforbundet (Danish Cyclists’ Federation) store was a helpful place to ask questions and check bike maps of our other destinations in Denmark. Cycling infrastructure remained strong in smaller cities. For example, we had wide lanes and a well-marked roundabout when cycling Odense-Kerteminde on the island Funen.
Our most challenging bike trip was 15 windy miles around the beautiful little island Ærø. But it was worth it.