Copenhagen is a city to look up to for its forward-thinking approach in designing the world's most livable city. Not only is it a beautiful Scandinavian city that blends old traditions with modern design, Copenhagen is now recognized as the first bike city in the world. With more than 390 kilometers of designated bike lanes, it is truly a biker's paradise.
How Bicycle Culture Developed in Denmark
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If you want to figure out when the phenomenon of bicycling took off in this country, you have to go back to the 1960s when the combination of the oil crisis, environmental movement, and controversial road projects resulted in the public favoring the bike over the car.
Up until the 1960s, bicycles were associated with freedom. With the bike, Danes were able to escape the cramped houses in the downtown core and flee to the clean air of the suburbs. However with the rise of cars, the city became characterized by dense traffic and packed parking lots. Pollution was an increasing problem and traffic accidents were common.
There was a huge public backlash to the growing sprawl of roads and as the '60s and '70s passed by, progressive city planning gave way to the introduction of more open spaces and a focus on building a network of cycle lanes.
Why is Cycling So Popular in Copenhagen?
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The sense of freedom of the bicycle never left the Danes and has since been associated with health as well. In addition, cycling has in recent years become a symbol of personal energy. This mentality comes from the huge initiatives by the city to make cycling ultramodern and super cool. This is done with the help of marketing initiatives that include billboards and advertisements online that talk about new bicycle projects and a focus on wellness.
What I find inspiring about cycling in Copenhagen and why I believe this culture has really propagated to everyone is that it is deeply rooted in people from all levels of society. Cycling is not just for people who can't afford a car or for those strictly in the downtown core. There is no prejudice when it comes to cycling and is in fact the first choice as a mode of transportation.
Benefits of a Biking Culture on Tourism
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For those that haven't tried it yet, biking as a way of exploring a city is such a joy. Imagine yourself starting from your hotel and covering an incredible amount of ground while also being able to ride through a lot of different neighborhoods and streets you typically wouldn't be able to see on foot.
In addition to that, travelers can save a lot more money with a bike because you can save on car rentals, parking and potentially cut the need for public transportation. Don't forget that you also get a great workout, which is perfect for building up an appetite for lunch and dinner.
For more of a guided tour of Copenhagen, make sure you check out this fantastic city bike tour.