Cycling and Graffiti in Copenhagen
It’s cycle city central in Copenhagen where almost everyone owns a bicycle and there are dedicated cycle paths on many roads. There are bikes for sale or rent almost everywhere (including free Bycyklen citybikes), bike tours (eg. Bike Mike Tours), and the enthusiastic Cycling Embassy of Denmark. You can plan your cycle routes with Cycle Copenhagen’s trip planner and ride to work from the suburbs on the new-ish superhighway for bicycles. Town planners can take Copenhagenize’s Bicycle Culture By Design study tour to understand the infrastructure and facilities behind one of the world’s top biking cities.
The only reason The Satorialist hasn’t featured Copenhagen in a big way must be that he would go stir crazy stopping the entire Danish gene pool for a photo – preppy boys with their blonde hair undercut, shaded by Ray Ban Wayfarers, dressed in brightly-coloured shorts, on Velorbis rides; girls with their blonde hair in tight buns, in streaming vintage sun-dressies and Ray Ban Aviators; white-haired business men in well-tailored suits and white trousers, dapper with handkerchief in jacket pocket, balancing on vintage Raleighs.
Also a common sight – parents taking the kids out on Christiana Bikes boxcycles and cargo bikes, and on Strøget (the pedestrianised shopped street), bicycle rickshaws for hire.
But all isn’t well in paradise – the number of cyclists on the roads has put a strain on the infrastructure, and led to congestion on cycle paths and impatient aggressive behaviour especially during rush-hour. The Danish government has apparently told campaigners asking for wider paths and multi-storey parking that they have to learn to behave before using public funds for this purpose. In light of the push by a small group of enthusiasts in Singapore for cycle paths, the island’s government might do well to challenge them to come up with viable:
- justifications for the use of public funds to acquire extra land and make extra space to accommodate the wishes a small minority of the population;
- regulations to govern the obligations of cyclists in relation to other road users (and pedestrians). It is easy to claim to be the victim of society and claim that society owes us our self-proclaimed rights, but not quite as easy to think about the rights we owe other people within the same community;
- justifications for the use of additional public funds (if any) to police and enforce these rules.
In Denmark, investment in infrastructure for cycling is logical because:
- a great majority of people cycle. Children learn to ride along with their ABCs, and cycle to kindergarten;
- people cycle because the weather does not discourage cycling;
- people also cycle because fuel prices are high.
And cycling is not the panacea for all that is wrong with society today. Any claims that a cycling city is a kinder city fails to consider that human behaviour, whether behind a wheel or pedaling furiously, does not change. A bicycle is stolen every 8 minutes in Copenhagen, say some statistics. And then there is the road rage.
And aside from any arguments about the artistic merit of street art, the rampant graffiti suggests an intolerance for the property rights of others – something that should not be prevalent in any society, much less a much-lauded “liveable” city.