Saturday, 16 July 2011
It was during the London tube strikes a couple of years ago that my husband first started cycling to work. We lived in Swiss Cottage and he worked at Canary Wharf so it was quite an effort to add the 35 minutes of hard pedalling (70 mins for a return journey!) to his weekly workout schedule. Then he gave up his annual tube pass and cycling became his preferred means of commuting. I was already a cyclist but this was how we became a biking family. When we moved to Copenhagen, maintaining our cycling lifestyle was effortless but we upgraded our wheels with two major purchases: first we invested in a cargo bike, which is used for school runs and whenever we need to transport both the children, and then my husband bought a very stylish road bike (see pics). If you also take into account our little boy's first bike with stabilisers, we're now a 13-wheel family!
Cycling here in Copenhagen is so easy. Looking back, the London commute was a death wish. Here there are cycle lanes on most roads and at junctions there are usually separate traffic signals for cyclists. There are different rules from London too: for example, you signal to slow down and when you want to turn across traffic you have to cross with pedestrians not the cars (ie you continue across a junction and then wait for the signal to change and cross again). But it isn't just the cycling rules and etiquette that makes it a very agreeable way to travel, there is a different attitude between the road users of Denmark and their English counterparts. It is an attitude of mutual respect. I have encountered only one incident of 'cycle rage' and that was a woman who swore at me when I was cycling along and eating ice cream with a fellow mum-friend in slow moving mid-afternoon traffic. She stood out like a sore thumb from the otherwise very pleasant biking masses.
P.S. I can't imagine that anyone would use this blog as an advice on Danish road traffic law but, just in case, here is my disclaimer: this blog post is written for the purposes of comment and discussion only. It is not a statement of the law or how it might apply to any particular set of accident circumstances and should not be relied upon as such.
Sunday, 10 July 2011
MADE and the cute 'pants' (or trousers if you're reading this in England!) pattern that I was assured would be an ideal beginner project, I picked up some fabrics (cherries on blue for my daughter and stripey denim for my son) and set to work.
Sunday, 3 July 2011
The summer is here and what a beautiful summer it is turning out to be. Blue skies and sunshine are the order of the day but there is also the feeling that at any moment, the wind will pick up, the clouds gather and a spectacular thunderstorm will pass through the city. Maybe this is why the Danes make the most of every moment of sunny weather. From the minute spring arrived, the covers on the cargo bikes have been peeled back, skin is on show and the parks and beaches are now full. The school year is over and for many this marks the retreat from the city to the summer houses. Those of us remaining in Copenhagen are left with a seemingly endless choice of grassy and sandy picnic spots; indeed, we are spoilt by the number of beaches on our doorstep. Living in Østerbro, when the temperature rises, we jump on the bikes and head off for Klampenborg, Hellerup, Charlottenlund or Swanemøllen. It was on one of our rides up to Klampenborg that I met Arne Jacobsen by the side of the road.
I say 'met' but in truth it was his beautiful petrol station that caught my attention. I had read about it and its iconic mushroom shape but the bright white washed building glistening in the sunshine was something else in reality. Cycling along Strandvejen, the beachside architecture is a constant distraction and as the Klampenborg bay comes into view, there is a sense that one has cycled back in time and I always expect to find the beach awash with 1930s beauties in halter neck polka dot bikinis and sipping 'shakes' and 'sodas'. The whole beachfront vista has a pre-war retro feel to it with the white flat roofed single and two storey buildings that lead to the Bellevue Teatret (also Arne Jacobsen).