I commuted to work this morning – on a bicycle, in Copenhagen.
In fact, I joined hundreds of thousands of Copenhageners who pedal daily to and from their jobs in this city of bikes. Because cycling is such a strong part of Copenhagen’s culture, the art of pedaling represents one way that I like to experience destinations: through total immersion.
While filming Two Perfect Days Copenhagen this week, cameraman Palle Demant and I bicycled from location to location. Biking made the Danish capital exceptionally easy to get around, and we never had to look for a parking place. There’s no question that we saved a lot of time and covered a lot of ground on the bikes. Palle remarked that we experienced so much that our two days felt like a week. More important perhaps, we pedaled along with the locals. Total immersion.
Last night, when we finished filming, I pedaled along the sea to my hotel, 30 minutes from the city center. It was 11 p.m., but the streets were busy with walkers, joggers and, of course, cyclists.
I rode on a dedicated bike lane, away from the cars and with traffic lights for bicycles. Cycling in Copenhagen is safe and easy.
Cyclists ride in such harmony that it feels as if the scene has been choreographed. A left arm goes up, indicating the cyclist is turning right. Bikes move in a rhythm that is beautiful to behold.
Cyclists in Copenhagen wear street clothes, not Spandex, because biking here is as much a lifestyle as it is a sport. Cars are no threat to cyclists here as they are in the U.S. Danish drivers are acutely aware of bikes, and they look before turning into the path of an oncoming bike. The biggest threats to cyclists in Copenhagen are tourists, who are prone to walk into cycling lanes without looking. In a moment, a thud, a crash and an injury, if you’re not careful.
Pedaling in the Nordic night, with a rosy hint of sunset ahead of me, was pure bliss. Perhaps bikes are a contributing factor to Denmark’s status as the world’s happiest nation. One thing is for sure, I know that pedaling a bike contributed to my own sense of bliss during those two perfect days in Copenhagen.