29 July 2008

Beach Culture and 'Tryghed'

Beach Days
It always amazes me how, when the weather is hot, you see so many people on weekday afternoons with blankets or towels on their bikes - having popped down to the beach for a swim or having relaxed in a park.

You're never far from the beach in The Copenhagen Summer.

La Famiglia on the Long John
And you're never far from the ice cream shop, either. We're loving the new Long John and we've a habit of riding down to the local Paradis ice cream shop - me on the pedals and la famiglia down below.
Long John Days
Two tired kids after a trip to said ice cream shop and three hours at the local outdoor wading pool. It's so lovely to ride like this in the evening. It's wonderful how everyone smiles at us as we pass by. Most Danes have an inherent appreciation of a good old fashioned bike ride and, like our family, most Copenhageners and Danes feel secure when riding on the bike lanes.

Wifealiciousness and I discussed the Danish word "tryg" relating to bicycling today. Every two years the City of Copenhagen publishes a Bicycle Account and one of the questions they ask is "Do you feel 'tryg' on your bike in the city?"

'Tryg' means 'safe' but also 'comfortable' in a peace-of-mind kind of way. We agreed that we feel safe when riding in our city, as do most people we know - and a majority of Copenhageners answer 'yes' when asked. There is still a group of people who feel 'utryg' or 'insecure/unsafe' and they are an important group. We have to find out how to make them feel less insecure. Some of these insecure cyclists find that a bike helmet offers them a bit of security - and that is their personal choice, which is great. Unfortunately, many of these insecure cyclists wrongly believe that a helmet will actually protect them from death or brain damage, which is a dangerous societal development.

This is part of the reason why the concept of 'tryg' is a bit of a buzzword. Consultants are being hired to try and get to the bottom of what it actually means to an individual and to a society. How do you define it? I feel safe and secure on my bike anywhere in Denmark, like most Danes - but that doesn't mean I close my eyes and happily whistle show tunes while riding through intersections. I just ride carefully, trusting in my own abilities.

Getting to the bottom of the concept of 'tryg' will help us help the little group of insecure cyclists so that they will take to their bikes more often. The World Health Organisation, the European Cyclists' Federation and the EU are all vocal about how we have to improve cycling and pedestrian conditions in Europe WITHOUT promoting or legislating bike helmets. There is a lot of good energy and good publications from a lot of heavy hitters, which encourages Marie and I and others who are working towards strengthening Danish bicycle culture.

Meanwhile, back at the cargo bike...
Working on the Cargo Bike
The great thing about a cargo bike is that you can actually use it as a work table while building a cargo box!

A cool post from our mate Marc at Amsterdamize, about Normalcy in Cycling. Marie is in Amsterdam today and is going to meet with Marc and drink him under the table.


Joey said...

Lovely pictures. It's so nice to see bicycles used as everyday pieces of transportation. We're a long way from that in most parts of the US.

With regard to helmet wearing, I see it as a personal choice. Let's give the same respect to people who choose to wear them as we'd like afforded to those of us who don't. :O)

Zakkaliciousness said...

thanks, joey.
i agree. that's what we're fighting for here. freedom of choice instead of propaganda.

NEC said...

I'm finding it a bit laughable that you think that the assumption helmets preventing brain damage/death is a "dangerous societal development". For us in a lot less safer cities to bike in, (In my case DC) and even where I moved from, Salt Lake City, we'll take all the protection we can get. We don't get our own "bike highways" or what not.

Zakkaliciousness said...

As the title might suggest - COPENHAGEN Cycle Chic - I'm speaking from our perspective, based on our culture. This blog is about a cycling life in Copenhagen, not anywhere else. Therein lies the rub. So don't go thinking I speaking for DC or SLC or anywhere else. I'm speaking about my own city and not comparing. It's not a competition.

Laughable is a strong word. It IS dangerous in one of the world's greatest cycle cultures to all of a sudden promote helmets and to start branding cycling as 'dangerous'. It IS dangerous for our society, because cycling will decrease and illness related to lack of physical activity will increase. As it has in all the countries and regions where helmet promotion and legislation has taken place. I don't fancy that sad development here in my city.

Amsterdamize said...

there's no such things as 'drinking me under the table'. Ever. Period. Bring it on.

Having an excellent time with Marie, she says hi.


(PS lots of Copenhagen Cycle Chic Special Reporting coming up, featured first(!) on Amsterdamize) hehe

steph said...

You guys are too funny. Next time I'm in Copenhagen I'm challenging Marie, myself! :)

Yes, in light of the American comments, we fight a hard tide against our fast-paced, car-dominated society. The culture of convenience. ACK. So embarrassing. It affects us in many ways & I'm sure it's even more obvious from your perspective.

...I'm still waxing over which kind of cargo bike to build. It keeps coming back to our hills here...will you guys talk review the different options soon? Or did I miss it?

Raquel said...

DONT FORGET last sunday, a spaniard has win le tour de france!!!he is a stylist boy too, jejejejeje!

Bob said...

In all of these lovely pictures I have seen for weeks and weeks, there has only been one person wearing a helmet.

How is it that only one person in Coenhagen wears a bike helmet?

Zakkaliciousness said...

steph: we have loads of cargo bike reviews and links over at Copenhagenize.com.

raquel: Si! And he was on a Danish team, so we are all happy, too!

Bob: Around 6% of Danes wear helmets, most of them are children. In the Netherlands and great cycling cities in Germany, the official number of helmeted cyclists is 0%. You read that right. 0%.

Helmets are a uniquely American trend.
The Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation has lots of info.

Robert P said...

Re 'Tryghed'

I recently spent a few days in Copenhagen studying the cycle infrastructure with some colleagues (you were on your holidays, otherwise I would have tried to drink *you* under the table! ;-) ).

To show how safe/comfortable we felt, one of our group - a man in his 50s - cycled for the first time in over 40 years.

I've cycled in Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam - and Dublin for 20 years - and I've never felt safer either.

Death to cycle helmets!

(And 'pfft' to people who call their city 'DC' and expect the world to understand! :D )

Cyclingred said...

I also moved to DC from Salt Lake City Utah. I feel safe riding on the streets. Many people don't. I tell them that you just have to get used to riding in it. I actually feel that riding in an urban area is safer than suburban.

When I start to feel unsafe I remind myself of other things that are not safe. When I was in Salt Lake a car went out of control and hit two people walking on the sidewalk.

Do I give up walking on the sidewalk? Do I star wearing a helmet when walking on the sidewalk? I do by the way generally wear a helmet. When bicycling not walking. :)

Amsterdamize said...

I'm editing up yesterday's videos of Marie's visit, but I thought I'd share the pics before finishing that.

NEC said...

CyclingRed- small world eh?

I also feel much safer biking in the streets than on the sidewalk or in the suburbs. More intersections on a sidewalk, and in the burbs the cars are so big and people aren't as likely to notice pedestrian traffic.

As for your comment Zak- I was not trying to say you should be providing global commentary on cycling or what not- you're right. What works for people in some places doesn't work for others.

I honestly love this blog so keep up the good work.

NEC said...

@robert p: Well, DC is just simpler than "District of Columbia" which I'm not sure many people would get either, but ok, point taken.

Amsterdamize said...

alright, "Riding With Marie" is online, enjoy Amsterdamize meeting Copenhagen Cycle Chic!

Thanks for that e-mail, Mikael, Marie sure made my day.