29 July 2008
Beach Culture and 'Tryghed'
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.
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.
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...
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.