A world in which bicycle lanes fringe most streets. Where people of all professions, statuses, and colors share similar means of transportation. Where cycling is not a disregarded option to commute, but a convenient necessity.
A bit too far-fetched? Well, the people of Copenhagen (in Denmark) beg to differ! Officially known as the first Bike City in the world, the city proudly possesses 390 kilometres of designated bike lanes. Bike commutation is a part of the rich culture of the people, not merely an easy, economic means of transportation (Nonetheless it is!).
What Are The Danes Doing Right?
Since the late ’70s after the energy crisis, the city has been investing huge amounts of money in cycling infrastructure.
- Danes have retained their heritage of cobblestone streets despite them not being very cyclist friendly. A minor tweak has helped solve this problem. They have used smoother cobblestones on one side of the road through which cyclists can move hassle free.
- Bike lanes are doubled, even stealing a lane or two from the car lanes, to keep cyclists safe.
- The Green Wave was created for cyclists. For 6 km into the city, all the traffic lights are coordinated for bikes. If you ride at 20km/hr, you will catch all the green lights all the way to the center of the city. You will see the green indicators on the road blinking.
If you are riding less than 20 km/hr and you see the green indicators disappearing, it means you need to speed up to make it to a signal.
- Malls, supermarkets, theaters, etc. have separate parking for bikes.
- Garbage cans on roads are placed at a tilt toward cyclists so they’re easier to use.
- Cyclists are allowed to carry their bikes on all national ferry boats, buses, and trains.
These are changes meant to inspire and create a world of difference in the long run.
All We Need Is To Break The Lazy Cycle
Most of us temporary fitness enthusiasts often consider cycling as a healthy habit. We all know its benefits–personal benefits include stronger immunity, toned muscles, healthier joints, and cost effectiveness (read: cheap transport); while public benefits include clean pollution-free air to breath and efficient movement of traffic.
How do you convince yourself to crawl out of your cozy bed or lift yourself off your bed-sized sofa and onto your bike?
It’s easy to get demotivated. It’s even easier to demotivate others. However, contrary to the belief that humans are complicated beings (maybe anatomically), we are quite easy to manipulate.
When you enjoy something, you do it willingly.
Stop perceiving cycling as a Captain Planet initiative intended to save you and Gaia. As noble and true as your intentions may be, look upon it as a fun activity (much like skating or dancing). Adoption of a cultural perspective makes everything more fun.
It’s not all in the mindset. Safety and infrastructure are major concerns.
If your city doesn’t encourage cyclists on its roads and doesn’t weave bicycle tracks into the regular streets or if your city’s terrain doesn’t permit cycling to be a viable option, you can’t be inconsiderately told to simply cycle to work or the likes every day. It’s impractical.
- The best you can do is map out your city’s cycling trails (if any) and try to figure out routes via them to places you visit often like your workplace, your kid’s school, the supermarket, etc.
- If the odds are not in your favor, identify parks that have bicycle lanes. Enquire if there are any time restrictions.
- This is also when joining a local bicycle club comes in handy. You can easily avail info about routes you can take while making like-minded friends.
- Another fun way to appease the adventurer in you is to spontaneously go exploring on your gas-free two wheeler. Cycling through natural parks and reserves (obviously legally!) on weekends is a fruitful way to spend your well-earned free hours.
- Remember the terrain obstacle? When in cities that do encourage cycling, like when on vacation, take advantage of the opportunity.
- It’s also a great way for spending quality time with your loved ones. Don’t you want to make that extra effort?
Know your vehicle.
With the advanced geared bikes available today, it is technologically wrong to look upon bicycles as inferior vehicles. Scan the internet and educate yourself about these eco-friendly beasts. You may soon find yourself fascinated with a particular model that suits your needs—everyday use, weekend mountain biking, recreational racing, or even occasional gallivanting.
Don’t forget safety gear.
Yes, I’m sure you already know this one. Even if playfully, don’t attempt cycling without your gear—helmet, gloves, knee and elbow guards, lights (if you’re going to ride after dark), and eye protection like sunglasses (to keep out the dust).
Spontaneity is key.