People on Bikes: Copenhagen

Welcome to special edition of People on Bikes from Copenhagen. Please join me in thanking Pro Photo Supply for their support of BikePortland. They’re a great local business and I would be a mess without their help.

As you can imagine, in a city where 36% of the trips are made by bicycle, it wasn’t hard for me to find a good spot to photograph people on bikes. In fact, I went right to one of the places with the highest amount of bike traffic in all of Europe: Queen Louises Bridge. The bridge connects the Nørrebro district with the city center and during the evening rush hour, there are massive platoons of people riding bicycles form in both directions.

Being here in Copenhagen is such a treat. For years I’ve heard about these mythical Danes and their bicycling prowess. A major part of my education so far has been to realize that it’s all not that big of a deal. They’re just regular folks doing the same thing you and I do: Riding their bikes. In other words, there’s a lot to be said for demystifying this whole Copenhagen thing. And a large part of that is getting to know the people.

I hope the images below help you get to know Copenhageners just a little bit more. What do you think? How do they compare to the typical cross-section of Portlanders? Or of New Yorkers?

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If you like People on Bikes, check out past editions here.

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kittens
kittens
9 years ago

dont they know that riding a bike is dangerous? get a helmet, fools!

BURR
BURR
9 years ago
Reply to  kittens

LOL!

Seven or 8 adults with helments and only one stupid day-glo outfit. I’d call that progress.

😉

Randall S.
Randall S.
9 years ago
Reply to  BURR

Heh, I was going to point out that this isn’t at all representative of Kopenhagen. I saw maybe a 7-8 people total wearing helmets when I was there, and most of the children don’t wear helmets either.

Craig
Craig
9 years ago
Reply to  kittens

Don’t you know that riding a giant cat without a helmet is über dangerous?

Barbara
Barbara
9 years ago

Definitely more fashion forward, less spandex, hi viz and helmets! And more upright sitting. They all ride bikes made for transportation not for sports.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

Made for transportation on flat ground, not up over the zoo.

Chris Shaffer
Chris Shaffer
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan

I’ve ridden my Electra Townie over Washington Hill and up to Marquam Hill. It’s not bad. I’m slow, sure, but hey, I’m always slow. It’s not like an upright bike doesn’t have gears, after all.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
9 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

They all ride bikes made for transportation but designed in the victorian era.

*fixed it for you*

Josh G
Josh G
9 years ago

#22: + for Keen sandals (probably not Mikael Colville-Andersen Chic approved, but $ coming back to PDX),
+ for Reel Lights.
He’s not the only 1 carrying kids on a bike slowed only by a coaster brake. Those metal stirrup kid holders look so medical, but I guess they work.

mikeybikey
mikeybikey
9 years ago

Sweet! And so many bicycles with chain guards or chain cases. Too few bikes sold here in the states come equipped with them IMO. Great set of photos.

Yuri Nashun
Yuri Nashun
9 years ago

Jonathan do you have any idea what the typical bike commute is there? My guess is those folks don’t ride as far as we do??? I can’t see bagging on spandex…it’s practical for me. My commute is 15 miles each way.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
9 years ago
Reply to  Yuri Nashun

I believe the average bike trip in CPH is a touch over a mile (~2 km).

John Pelletier
John Pelletier
9 years ago
Reply to  Yuri Nashun

There are some long distance folks in the Netherlands, but usually if it is a long distance it is bike-train and not all bike. Anyway I have a 10mi commuter morning and evening and I do it in everyday clothes on an upright (not bolt) Breezer Uptown. Actually dress pants are really nice to wear as they are lighter! I would say you could do it with no problem but then again we all need to do what we can and most folks are not going that far!

Joseph E
9 years ago
Reply to  Yuri Nashun

I ride 15 miles one-way on my Batavus, some days. Other days it’s only 11 miles one-way. I used to ride a Breezer Uptown, like in my profile photos. There is a Batavus above (#20) but mine looks more like bike #5.

But I do agree that for most people, an 10 to 15 mile one-way trip should be bike / transit. That’s what I do, sort of: train in the AM, ride back in the PM. I also have a road bike, but it only saves me 10 minutes out of a 55 minute commute (on the slower bike), and then I have to change into padded shorts and put on gloves to be comfortable, so overall I save only 5 minutes. The train saves 20 minutes.

Jim Lee
Jim Lee
9 years ago

And not a bleeping derailleur in sight!

Erik
Erik
9 years ago
Reply to  Jim Lee

I spotted just one, in the background of #13. I need to reconsider an IGH.

was carless
was carless
9 years ago
Reply to  Erik

Careful, they can leak oil. But well worth it if you store it in a garage or something – maintenance is virtually nil!

Andreas Hammershøj
Andreas Hammershøj
9 years ago
Reply to  was carless

I’ ve lived in Denmark and Copenhagen my entire life and known a lot of IGH’s and single speed hubs with coaster breaks. I currently have 8 in the bike-cellar, and I have never had an oil leak. That goes even for very old and worn hubs. Oldest one I have is probably from ’81.

Jonathan Reed
9 years ago

…nor a single drop bar…

thefuture
thefuture
9 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Reed

Yeah I noticed that too. Looked back to the last Portland version, tons of drop bars:

http://bikeportland.org/2013/05/02/people-on-bikes-north-vancouver-avenue-86270

Ryan
Ryan
9 years ago
Reply to  thefuture

Why all the ripping on drop bars? I have drop bars on most of my bikes, including my primary commuter rig. Know why? Because they’re comfortable FOR ME, practical FOR ME, and I LIKE THEM. All of you who like flat bars, rock the flat bars; all of you who like risers, rock the risers; like the drops? Rock those. And so on. But seriously, can we stop telling everyone who’s not doing it exactly like us that they’re doing it wrong?

Paul in the 'couve
Paul in the 'couve
9 years ago
Reply to  Ryan

Amen! I just took the riser bars off a bike I tried them on, and mustache bars off another. I do have two upright position bikes which I use for utility rides close to home – trips mostly well under 3 miles like the majority of trips in Copenhagen. Drop bars work great for me (and 2″ or so below seat level – and I’m on the older side) so WTF does anyone care what bars I prefer?

If I’m going further than 3 or 4 miles away from home 95% of the time I’m going to be riding drop bars and going faster than 12mph.

o/o
o/o
9 years ago

Cool pix…

daisy
daisy
9 years ago

The weather looks pretty identical to Portland.

flowb33
9 years ago

Many men on step-throughs. Lots of headphones. Relaxed postures. Is it flat in CPN?

Also, to the dude throwing his “West” in #58 … put that hand back in your pocket.

SilkySlim
SilkySlim
9 years ago
Reply to  flowb33

I like the way he is reppin’ East Cope.

Andreas Hammershøj
Andreas Hammershøj
9 years ago
Reply to  flowb33

Yes, pretty flat, just like the rest of the country.

Elliot
Elliot
9 years ago
Reply to  flowb33

To put it into perspective, the summit of Mt. Tabor (194m) is 23m higher than the highest point in all of Denmark (174m).

Barbara
Barbara
9 years ago
Reply to  Elliot

Maybe. But that’s just another excuse. The do have lots of bridges to go over and as they are on the coast they have lots of wind. And it’s cold and dark half of the year.

denvercx
9 years ago

What, no carbon fiber race bikes? GASP!

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
9 years ago
Reply to  denvercx

i have 3. and i ride them for transportation. GASP!

A.K.
A.K.
9 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

You too?? Me as well!

Turns out it’s pretty fun to do a 15 mile ride to work in the morning, then a hard 25-35 mile ride home.

anon
anon
9 years ago

OMG #32 — Dawn Wiener!!

Anne Hawley
Anne Hawley
9 years ago

Loving the preponderance of big upright, step-through-frame bikes and good looking street/office clothes. What a fantastic glimpse of Copenhagen. Thank you, Jonathan!

Shane
9 years ago

What is happening in #51?! Is that an intertube dreadlock wig?!
Hope you can do a People on Bikes near a school while you’re there to catch a bunch of kids and their bike style!
Loving the dutch coverage.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  Shane

Hey Shane and Robert,

I was thinking the same thing but I don’t feel comfortable standing outside a school and snapping pics… if you know what I mean. That might not be appreciated… So good news is that Mikael Colville-Andersen said I could join him for school pick-up tomorrow. If that doesn’t work out, I still plan to try and capture more of the school kids somehow.

Robert Ping
9 years ago

I second Shane’s motion for a Kids on Bikes series near a school!

Paul Smith
9 years ago

Oh lordy, bring on the helmet/no helmet bickering! What an interesting bike in #40. Wonder if it’s a folder,and who makes it? That child seat in #33 seems next to invisible! Wonder what it is?

Andreas Hammershøj
Andreas Hammershøj
9 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smith
Gracie
Gracie
9 years ago

Love this! People were wearing real clothes and felt safe enough to not wear helmets. We should all work toward that day when 50% of the popuation areriding bikes.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
9 years ago
Reply to  Gracie

I am still trying to figure out how my non-real pearl izumi jacket kept me dry yesterday.

GlowBoy
GlowBoy
9 years ago

Wow, actually quite a few more helmets than I would have expected based on my visit to København 8 years ago.

I did wear a helmet when I did some biking there (though I probably wouldn’t if I went today), and actually provoked a bystander to shout “god helm!” (“nice helmet”) at me.

johntarantino1
johntarantino1
9 years ago
Reply to  GlowBoy

In the Netherlands, practically no one wears helmets, and you will get made fun of if you do…haha.

was carless
was carless
9 years ago

No longtails either!

dwainedibbly
dwainedibbly
9 years ago

Bowling ball! I love it! Now sure which is funnier: that, or the guy in the orange haz-mat suit.

Men on step-throughs is a trend I like, given that my back & flexibility aren’t what they used to be and will eventually be less than they are now.

dwainedibbly
dwainedibbly
9 years ago
Reply to  dwainedibbly

“Now” = “Not”

TOM
TOM
9 years ago

no road bikes ? no gloves ?
helmets ? maybe they are going slow and there aren’t many crashes ? (I won’t even take a test ride around the block without my lid)
was one checking her cell while riding ?

Spiffy
9 years ago

#33, first fixie I’ve ever seen with a child seat…

basketloverd
basketloverd
9 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

Coaster brake tab but still a rebel with no front.

RJ
RJ
9 years ago

Most of the men are riding bikes with horizontal crossbars, and NONE of the women are. I don’t think Portland is ever going to go for that.

Barbara
Barbara
9 years ago
Reply to  RJ

Why not? Most of the city bikes now come with step through frames. My Kinn bike has a lower cross bar. Makes jt easier to wear skirts and dresses while biking. Remember, biking should be an everyday activity not a sport that requires special clothing. But maybe that’s just my German bike socialization. I only know step through bikes for women (whether they are fixies or sportier bikes with lots of gears).

RJ
RJ
9 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

I’m just saying that I don’t foresee a day when Portland women en masse will voluntarily restrict themselves to step-through frames. Variety is the spice of life.

Barbara
Barbara
9 years ago
Reply to  RJ

Better than being involuntarily restricted to cross bars. What’s the advantage of those again?

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
9 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

weight, stiffness, and stability.

RJ
RJ
9 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

I wasn’t saying one is better than the other. Jonathan asked how the cross section of CPHers appears to differ from PDXers shown in other installments of “People on Bikes.” I think it’s notable that women in Portland appear comfortable with either style, while it seems that for women in Copenhagen there might be some stigma or negative association attached to riding a “men’s” bike.

Barbara
Barbara
9 years ago
Reply to  RJ

I think you interpret too much into those pictures. I’m German and grew up with step through bikes. For me it’s normal to have women-specific bikes for transportation (road and mountain bikes have crossbars in germany, too) and it was weird to not be able to find any here in Portland (it’s only slowly changing in recent years, when you find a little bit bigger market for commuter bikes). So for Portland women it might be weird to see all these step through bikes, whereas for me it’s weird to see all these women on men’s bikes in Portland (and I suspect that the frame size is made for men, too). Maybe it encourages more women to bike when they feel that there are bikes out there that fit women and their needs.

ZGNW
8 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

Hi Barbara, we’d love to have you bring your German bike socialization & join us! 🙂

100th Monkey
100th Monkey
9 years ago

Anyone notice that a few of the helmets looked to be Nutcase? BTW, wearing a helmet because you believe riding your bike to be dangerous is just that; a belief or self-fulfilling prophecy, not a perception.

GlowBoy
GlowBoy
9 years ago

I don’t believe biking to be any MORE dangerous than driving a car. Both carry substantial risk of injury and death, especially in America. I wouldn’t ride in a car without a seatbelt, and I wouldn’t ride a bike at above a pootling pace without a helmet.

Anytime you’re going above a moderate running pace, it becomes far less likely that you will be able to land on your feet in the event of a mishap. If you can’t land on your feet there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to slam your head to the pavement. BTW, I just witnessed a horrific skateboard accident last month in which serious head injuries would have been prevented by a helmet. It’s not just about bikes.

Lynne
Lynne
9 years ago

fenders! racks! bells! Love it!

basketloverd
basketloverd
9 years ago

1 beard, 2 facial hair, only one visible tattoo maybe two.

Andy K
Andy K
9 years ago

GREAT PICS – THANKS JONATHAN! I don’t know why the commenters feel the need to point out that no helmets mean the riders are comfortable with the surrounding road users (specifically cars). Why does it always have to be a battle? I agree with GlowBoy – I would wear my helmet even in a carless city….because sometimes I ride too fast or don’t react to the conditions fast enough.

Matt
Matt
9 years ago

The common denominator–none of the bikers are overweight. I think that says something about biking, or maybe the photographers choice on images to post, but regardless…

Barbara
Barbara
9 years ago
Reply to  Matt

It doesn’t say so much about biking but rather about a society that promotes and values active transportation and moderation. There are not a lot of obese or overweight Danes in general.

John Liu
John Liu
9 years ago

No panniers. Not many lights (3 only). No high-viz or reflective. Almost no helmets. No drop bars. No derailleurs. No lycra or sport-specific clothing.

If we didn’t know anything about the city, those observations would suggest light loads, daytime use or well-lit environment, safe streets and drivers and riders, moderate speeds, minimal hills, shorter distances, utility cycling rather than exercise-goal cycling. True?

Spiffy
9 years ago
Reply to  John Liu

most of the bikes have lights, but they’re on the far front of the fork and the far rear of the fender… the photos are cut off so that they’re not shown…

Editz
Editz
9 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy
John Liu
John Liu
9 years ago

Oops, should be “almost no high-viz”, don’t know how I overlooked spaceman #9

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
9 years ago

Love all the flapping jackets and the total lack of hills! It’ll be sweet when Portland finally gets all its bike trips down to under 2 miles! Is #25 standing on the pedals? What’s he trying to prove?

But seriously…lots of stuff works in Copenhagen/Amsterdam–or even for some folks in Portland–that doesn’t work for everybody. When did drop bars and derailleurs become evil?

Chris I
Chris I
9 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

Why isn’t anyone proposing that the city use fill material from the West Hills to fill in the Willamette and construct a canal system a la Copenhagen and Amsterdam? And we can build a bunch of mixed use residential/commercial on top of it. That will solve our hill problem and commuting distance problem all at once!

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
9 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

People on drop bar derailleur bikes are intimidating and discourage people from cycling. So come on people! If you want mode share to increase you need to ditch the surly crosscheck or trek fx and buy a nice step-through velorbis or batavus.

Chris
Chris
9 years ago

Oh man, too much bike porn for one day!

Jim Lee
Jim Lee
9 years ago

Derailleurs became evil when the Schwinn and Shimano families conspired to market the “Varsity” as a style statement. Their provenance is from road cycling, especially stage racing, where not only must one ascend horrid hills and descend perilous passes, but ride for hours in a peleton where many gearings are useful to maintain an efficient long-term cadence.

A compendium of the nasties:

Won’t work unless cleaned and maintained at least weekly–gunk on jockey rollers!

Laterally flexible bushing-less chain flips off sprockets–free wheeling both ways when chain drops off rings!

Dished rear wheel is marginally stable structurally–high tension on drive side and low tension on off side results in broken spokes unless wheels are expertly made!

Fragile–susceptible to damage when knocked about!

Cogs are so narrow that they wear quickly, which wears the chain, which wears the rings–all expensive to replace!

Highly annoying–ticky-ticky noises!

Basically, that combination of human animal and mechanical device which comprise–wait for it Jonathan–the CYCLIST, have a torque characteristic like unto a steam locomotive, which manifestly does not require a 27 speed chain-flipping transmission for proper motion. By the time you have cleaned your drive-train, repositioned the chain on the ring, wired up that broken rear spoke, bodged the mechanism bent by careless parking back into marginal alignment, spent hundreds of dollars replacing cluster, chain, rings–

Your fixie friends will have been silently wheeling about town, doing business, enjoying life, patronizing brew pubs instead of bike shops.

Yes, Frank Schwinn has much to answer for! But his personal ride was a dark green Paramount with a 3 speed Sturmey hub. Not stupid either way!

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
9 years ago
Reply to  Jim Lee

“Your fixie friends will have been silently wheeling about town, doing business, enjoying life, patronizing brew pubs instead of bike shops.”

And when they get as old as me, they’ll be walking (if at all) up and over the west hills rather than riding.

Paul in the 'couve
Paul in the 'couve
9 years ago

I am surprised no one else has mentioned interestin #44 a front drive cargo trike with rear wheel steering. It has a name on it so google gets us the link http://www.sortejernhest.dk/jern/ I want one.

Also, amazing, everyone’s bike is a perfect fit 😉

Craig
Craig
9 years ago

Are Denmark and the Netherlands two different countries? Somebody help me out here I’m super confused.

Kristen
Kristen
9 years ago
Reply to  Craig

Yes, they’re two different countries.
Denmark :: Danish people
The Netherlands :: Dutch people

GlowBoy
GlowBoy
9 years ago
Reply to  Craig

Yes, they are two different countries, separated by a couple hundred miles of Germany. Amsterdam (and the Netherlands) keeps coming up because its bike situation is similar to Copenhagen’s.

jim
jim
9 years ago

It must be refreshing to see all those riders and no Spandex. It isn’t just tacky but those that wear it have to be the fastest rider in the lane, like they are dreaming they are Lance Armstrong. It looks calmer there with people staying in the flow.

Shinji
Shinji
9 years ago

Interesting pictures, compared with “People on bikes: Portland” and following pictures of Amsterdam, the Netherlands:

http://www.ski-epic.com/amsterdam_bicycles/

So, the less widespread bike use is, the more people wear helmets, and the more stylish bikes they ride, it seems.

Joe
Joe
9 years ago

awesome shots, great bikes too.

carole
carole
9 years ago

Aargh! All those gorgeous bikes! I am so jealous.

stephry
stephry
9 years ago

I wish I was Danish

Scott
Scott
9 years ago

#1 is Danish Jordan Huffnagel.