For Release Wednesday, July 17, 2013
For me it happened on a business trip to Copenhagen. I saw bikes everywhere, beginning with the taxi ride from the airport where I spotted business executives toting briefcases on bikes. I saw wannabe fashion models wearing high heels on bikes, kids heading to school on bikes, parents pedaling toddlers to daycare on bikes, old folks chatting to one another on bikes.
How do they do it, I wondered? I was a seasoned bicyclist who rode every day for commuting and recreation, yet still felt tense wheeling down busy streets. These riders looked completely at ease, even in morning rush hour with cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles all around them. I even saw one guy smoking a cigarette on a bike and others absorbed in conversations on their mobile phones.
Then I noticed that the bike lane was separated from motor vehicles by a divider. So that’s how they do it! I couldn’t wait to try it myself.
The next day I ducked out of a meeting, rented a bike at nearby shop and set forth to explore Copenhagen on two wheels. After pedaling just a block, I thought “Wow!” and began giggling. This was an entirely new experience in biking – almost like the exhilaration of riding without training wheels for the first time.
Liberated from fears of being sideswiped by motorists, I could take in the historic architecture and enjoy the city’s teeming street life. There were even special traffic signals for bicyclists, giving us a slight head start through crowded intersections. No wonder half of Copenhagen’s downtown commuters travel by bike.