Rush hour in Denmark

Two Danish tourists visiting Canada recently criticized Canadians for not having enough parks in our cities and for not encouraging cycling. Well, I’ll have none of it. Here’s what rush hour looks like in Denmark.


“Cyclist at red 2” by heb@Wikimedia Commons

What cyclist in their right mind wants to navigate through that!!! It looks like a bike accident waiting to happen.

Anyway, so what, Danes like to cycle. It’s not that big a deal.

Let’s consider:

– the size of Denmark is 43000 square kilometres, smaller than Nova Scotia [we have more park land than they have land!]

– Copenhagen (the capital and largest city) has a population of 550,000, fairly small by North American standards, and it’s as flat as a pancake

– the climate is very mild all year with the average high of 11C and low of 5C [not 33C in July or -25C in February]

– and gas cost $8US a gallon or $2.20 a litre and there is a car ownership surtax of 180% of the value [that’s right 180% – think about that for a moment and ask yourself (1) if you could afford that and (2) if you would not start riding a bike tomorrow if that were imposed on your car.

It’s no wonder then that:

– 52% of all Copenhageners cycle to their place of work or education every day, even when this is located outside the municipal boundary

– 4 out of 5 of all Copenhageners have access a bike.

– There are 650,000 bicycles in Copenhagen and app. 550,000 inhabitants. Compared to 125,000 cars, corresponding to 5.2 bicycles for each car.

So, before we start congratulating the Danes, it looks to me like they are being forced onto their bikes by the cost, and they don’t mind riding because it’s not a hardship given the mild temps and flat terrain – whip-di-do. Try riding in Toronto. I bet most of them would drive a car if they lived here.


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