Our trip to Denmark was somewhat of a diversion….again, though this time we were attending a wedding rather than filling time during the monsoon season ( the reason for our France and Italian jaunt last year). Despite making regular trips home we have still been riding since July 2012 and sadly trips to see friends living outside the UK have not been on the agenda unless of course they were on /near our planned routes.
When a good friend announced her wedding in Denmark at the end of July I thought this would be another of those occasions we would have to miss. We’d already missed a number of friends weddings and on those occasions there had been nothing we could do. Dates and routes meant we could not catch up and thereby join in celebrations. This time however a plan seemed possible and following John’s agreement we decided to ride home from Turkey via a short trip through Denmark. Well, given this is the country with one of the highest ratios of bike ownership it would seem rude not to. It was also an opportunity to enjoy riding in a place with serious cycle infrastructure.
Having landed in Esjberg we would take two days to ride to my friends where we would stay for 5 nights. This was no ordinary wedding and there would be two big events….a pre -wedding ski party and the marriage day itself. The remainder of the time would be for eating, drinking and recovery. We wouldn’t ride our bikes during this time though the bike club “guard of honour” as the bride and groom came out of the church would certainly be a reminder of what we would be doing again in just a few days.
Following a route via Arhus and Roskilde we would then ride to Koge where our good friend Gus, from our African ride, lived. While the predominantly flat landscape of Denmark gave us little concern and much of the route was on quiet roads or bike lanes it was not without some challenges…..we are just not used to the bike paths.
Having pootled around on the island of Fano we headed back to Esjberg to camp. We were following the GPS yet as it didn’t always show the bike lanes and the routes we planned then displayed no cycling signs we seemed stuck. Eventually, having asked in the local garage and made our way through the intersection we found the bike path again. Having dipped below the road and behind the trees this was better than just a shoulder. They really do make an effort here to make cycling safe and easy – once you know where you’re going!
While not without frustrations (often swapping which side of the road we are parallel to and still the occasional abrupt ends) both drivers and pedestrians are very much aware of the cyclist to. Drivers hold back at T-junctions as cyclists cross infront of them, pedestrians mostly stick to their “side” and folliage is well trimmed. We read that in Copenhagen bike ownership outweighs that of cars 5 to 1. There are bikes everywhere with bike racks at bus stops and whole carriages on the local trains for cycle commuters. We read of one city where 73% of children walk or cycle to school and despite a 10% rise in population Denmark has seen a 10% drop in CO2 emissions. Denmark really does have a phenomenal cycle culture and seems to provide some proof that with good infrastructure people will ride their bikes.
The design of cycle lanes and the way in which cyclists fit into overall town and road planning really interests me. While we have some cities in the UK where cycling is more predominant (Oxford), and new towns where bike lanes are pre planned (Milton Keynes) we still need better signposting, a greater distinction between social riding and commuting and most of all, a change in attitude from all those using our roads. We’re in this together and we all need to share the road. Riding in Denmark where in the most part all drivers and riders are considerate is a fabulous example of how this can work.
As for fart kontrol….well, that’s just my childish sense of humour. Fart in Danish means speed and I’m sorry to admit the signs for watching your speed do make me smile.
I’ve posted my heels and dress back to the UK now and as we fly out to Turkey it will be time to don functional clothes and watch out for trucks. I’m certainly not expecting a cycle culture here.