Friday, August 30, 2013

I heart CPH

The second airplane did the trick... Deleted that SMS to Danny with instructions to pet Bella all her life on my behalf, and let her sleep under the covers sometimes. Instead I got to see him in person!

It was around 7pm, 4 hours late. We trundled the bike case into the parking garage at SFO, dodging incoming cars, trying not to get hit.

Driving home on 280 the sun was on its way down behind the golden hills. Here in California we have at least one hour less daylight compared to Copenhagen. The process of adjusting begins, of missing Denmark and new friends and great experiences. Cultural jet-lag.

It felt funny to be in a car. In two-and-a-half weeks in Scandinavia, there were only two short car trips in Stavanger, Norway. It's been a sort of vacation from cars.

Today the fixie carried me to the Milk Pail for groceries. Then the car navigated us to Hacker Dojo. A little taste of both perspectives, first bike then car.

I can tell you, it's a rude awakening.

In Silicon Valley behind the wheel you'll find strivers and alphas. Strivers drive with desperation, either to achieve their destiny of world domination or just to get back to work to serve the astronomical rent or mortgage. Alphas, they drive power cars. Often large SUVs with loads of power but little design shortcomings like no visibility for bicycles and difficulty going around corners. When you're the center of the universe, who needs visibility?

Both strivers and alphas have a fundamentally competitive approach. Dog eat dog. What they long for is for others to get out of the way. They'll wait for a second, maybe two. Giving you a little push would not be totally out of character.

Either way, it felt stressful. This is my normal cycling environment and normally I have a set of tried-and-true behaviors that make it safe for me. Where did those behaviors go?

Sure, there are (a couple of) rude, hurried drivers in Denmark. Yet even in urban Copenhagen the norm is far, far more humane. The word tolerant comes to mind. Bikes are the way people get around. Everyone, young and old and in-between, white and blue collar, everyone uses bikes.

There are so many bike shops I lost count and they're all surviving despite the fact that it's not totally clear how they're different from each other. There are so many bikes on the road at all hours, it becomes normal and the rest of the world adjusts. As far as I could tell no one bothers to make a distinction between bike commuters and recreational cyclists or randonneurs or racers or whatever. There does not seem to be anything like bike advocacy; it has been transcended.

Copenhagen is Bike Town.

1 comment :

  1. christania’s “rent christania bike” bikes are rolling across the city. The system, less than a year old, is funded by christania’s municipal government. It is currently only in one of christania’s 22 administrative districts. Although a 2nd generation system, there are 12 “Houses” in this district, each with around 40 bikes. The yearly subscription cost is the equivalent of $2 US, and allows the use of a bike for up to four hours at a time. In less than a year, there have been 6,000 subscriptions sold. There are larger 3rd generation systems in the world, which do not have a subscription to bike ratio as big as that.