Cyclist Hell

Racing 08All eyes were on Denmark last week (well, some at least), as Copenhagen and Rudersdal hosted the UCI Cycling World Championships. The event itself went extremely well: huge amounts of spectators, interesting sporting moments, a well-organised affair, and great weather. Last Sunday, we went to Holte (just a 5K bike ride from our home) to watch part of the race and feel the excitement over such a big sporting event in little Denmark.

Of course, doing a road race in the middle of a big city is impossible without a certain hassle for its inhabitants. Major road closures changed the daily commute for the many people that usually rely on their car to take them into the city. But this is not what my title refers to. I ride the train everyday, and although last week saw an increase in the number of passengers, I was able to do pretty much the same as usual. And an event like this is great for the country in terms of tourist income and brand value.

Racing 02No, what I’m talking about is how you cannot go anywhere in Copenhagen (or its suburbs, for that matter) without being overwhelmed by people on bicycles. It’s easy, healthy, free, good for the environment, and what have you. For many Copenhageners and outsiders alike, that’s what they love about this city. Not me, though.

I don’t mind being able to get to the station quickly and inexpensively, especially when the weather is nice. But I do not subscribe to the prevailing sentiment that bicycles are oh, so good for a city.

Too many cyclists believe they own the place. They are a danger to themselves and others, not adhering to traffic rules, taking up space on trains, and terrorising innocent pedestrians and others who want a clean and safe city.

What if the police started actively enforcing traffic rules for bicycles? Not just running red lights (jayriding?), but also especially riding on sidewalks, pedestrian streets, and train platforms, parking in no-parking zones (towing should happen much more frequently), riding against traffic, and speeding (how about speed-cameras for bikes?). Most of this is illegal already, but seldom enforced.

I know cars take up a lot of space, but there are simply too many bicycles in Copenhagen. My solution? More public transit (trains, metro, trams/light rail, buses), pedestrian streets (free of bicycles, that is), and a limited number of cars where unavoidable (taxing visiting drivers in some form is fine by me).

Am I just becoming a grumpy old man? Possibly – I think many bloggers are. While we’re at it, we should prohibit dogs as well.

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Author: Kenneth Mollerup Birch

Living north of Copenhagen, Denmark. MA in Information Science. Interests include communication, internet, sociology, language, politics, religion, theology, travel, music, and food.

2 thoughts on “Cyclist Hell”

  1. I am happy to report that the local police have targeted bicyclists this week in Lyngby Main Street, where I work. Riding on sidewalks is a particular problem in this area because the road itself is paved with cobblestones.

    From our upstairs office we have watched in amusement while as many as 7 people have been standing in line waiting to recieve their fine.

    Ironically, though, the police officers on the spot have been very preoccupied with their task, ignoring all other traffic offenses, even the more serious ones, taking place right beside them.

    Seriously, though, what would you do about police dogs?

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