When even sperm samples are being delivered by bicycle - on a specially adapted "sperm bike" no less - you know you've got a successful cycling city on your hands.  The Danes have been building bicycle tracks in their capital, Copenhagen, since 1912 - and now more than 100 years later they can truly call themselves a "bicycle friendly city".  




This video, the first in a series on bicycle friendly cities produced by Skoda, looks at what it is like to ride a bicycle in Copenhagen:

In the video Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize fame explains that bicycles are like vacuum cleaners in Denmark.  Everybody has one, nobody thinks that is unusual, and certainly nobody gets dressed up in funny clothes to do the Hoovering...




Before I visited the city for myself I thought that perhaps the people who chronicle the riders in Copenhagen were choosing their pictures subjectively, and casting the riders in a light they wanted to portray.  But I was wrong; the reality is just like the pictures.  




There are bikes of every shape and size, riders of every shape and size and people who are both very young and very old get around on two wheels.  Why?  It is the most simple and efficient way to get around, and it is subjectively safe enough for a majority of people to ride.


The really wide lane these people are cycling in is a bicycle lane.  There's another - equally wide - lane going in the opposite direction on the other side of the bridge.  In the rush hour it suffers from bicycle "traffic jams".

This concept of subjective safety - how it actually feels to ride a bike - is the basic foundation of creating a successful cycling city that Mikael talks about as being something that you can "cut and paste" in to cities all around the world.  And he's right.  The infrastructure might be slightly different from one country to the next, or certain cities might have their own little innovative quirks, but whether Berlin or Budapest, Lisbon or London, the activity of riding a bicycle for everyday transport has to feel sufficiently safe and inviting for enough people to actually do it in order for mass cycling to occur. 

I love riding in London, but watching this video and reflecting on these images, sometimes I feel we have a long way to go...

PS I thought it was odd that Skoda would choose to make a video about bicycle friendly cities, but they are at pains to point out on their Youtube channel that they were making bicycles long before the automobile came along and they still do today.