Danish Diaries – The world of Biking
Being in a corner of the world does not seem like a big thing. After all, it is just the corner of the world! The thing that we forget the most is the fact that there is so much that we do not know of the place we live. It is the little things that make all the difference. When thinking about Aarhus, a lot of small things come into mind which we see soon.
Given that Aarhus is blessed with a stretch of beautiful shoreline, edges of forests and the natural topography of ups and downs, it is no surprise that people here love to keep fit with running and biking (cycling as we would call it). Individuals of all ages regardless of background don their running gear and are off to running. There are shops dedicated to just running here. It feels like it is not just an exercise but a way of living. The forests especially have trails and tracks where you can not only challenge yourself into a run but also pedal hard on your own or with friends.
The beauty of biking in Aarhus is the fact that it is for everyone. Children bike with their parents – not just as young toddlers with their tiny bicycles – bikes here have child seats which can be fixed to the back of the bike and a small child can be safely strapped into it. In some cases, you get to see cargo bikes. You can carry cargo (as the name suggests) but primarily is used transport children in them. It has enough space to bike around with a sleeping child or even 2-3 children seated. I really wish we could have this in India! The best part of this is the fact that bike lanes exist throughout the city, which ensures that you don’t have to fight your way with the automobiles. It is fascinating to see that even though the practice of biking began with the invention of bicycles, there was a point in history when it declined. In the 1960s, cars were threatening to displace bicycles in the main Danish cities but an oil crisis along with the environmental movement and a couple of controversial road projects reversed this effectively. It has turned out effectively that the number of bikes overtook the number of cars in Copenhagen!
See the complete news article – https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/nov/30/cycling-revolution-bikes-outnumber-cars-first-time-copenhagen-denmark
Some interesting facts about the biking culture in Denmark include:
· Cycling accounts for 17% of all trips in Denmark and 4% of the traffic in kilometres.
· Cycling accounts for 20 % of all commuter trips.
· 85 % of all bike trips are under 5 km.
· 70% of all trips by bicycle are less than 3 km. Only 2% of all trips by bicycle are longer than 15 km.
· On average, Danes cycle 1,5 km a day.
· Danish men and women almost bike the same but women cycle a bit more often (0.5 vs. 0.46 trips per day) while the men cycle slightly longer (1.80 vs.1.48 km) than women.
· Nine out of ten Danes own a bicycle.
· 44 % of all children aged 10-16 cycle to school
· Since 2009, Denmark has invested at least 373 million euro in cycle projects
Facts in Aarhus are also equally impressive
· 37% of everyone in Aarhus cycle daily.
· 48% cycle to work every day.
· Aarhus has a total of 675 km cycle lanes.
· As a part of being the European Cultural Capital 2017, the CYKLO festival is being organised in August where the centre of attention is on bicycles and biking for everyone!
Given the fact that you see a lot of people pedalling in all kinds of weather, it was no surprise that I too started cycling my way into town. I’m not a pro in cycling and I do not cycle regularly but the encouragement that you get when there are people huffing and puffing or even flying past you is amazing. The most I have biked here is around 10 kilometres and I would have never thought about this back in India. It does not feel like a strain when I am biking along with my friends with a constant banter. Yes, I am not super woman and there are times when I get down and push my cycle up a steep slope but it gives me a satisfaction that I have not completely given up. I find it to be a fun challenge that I can succeed in by cycling a little further than I did yesterday. It almost seems ironic that I am discussing going on short trip on my cycle with my friend to the outskirts of Aarhus now!
To a better, healthier and cleaner future – I hope to take this biking culture with me back to India! Vises naeste gang! (To those who are wondering – it is Danish for see you next time!)
About the Author:
Athmika Ramachandra is currently continuing her post-graduation studies at Aarhus University, Denmark under student exchange programme of Manipal University Media and Communication Department. Athmika is Gold Medallist in BA from Mangalore University, enjoys photography, listening to music, reading novels and trying out new food. A bitten travel bug Athmika cherishes writing and poetry and she is the granddaughter of Late Padyana Gopalakishna (Pa.Go), Veteran Journalist & Kannada Columnist of yesteryears from Mangalore.