Bike Miles — to the Moon and Back, Every Day
“750,000 miles daily, enough to make it to the moon and back” — there is some serious collective biking in Copenhagen. Yes, it takes place every day. Biking, seriously, is simply part of life. All the excuses we find everyday in our lives to jump into our car instead of go foot or bike don’t hold for the Danes. They know better. They aren’t bought and sold by the illusion of comfort. Their lifestyles are sophistically developed into a reality of living happily on the open road.
Every day in Copenhagen, life in a parallel reality is vibrantly alive. Taking responsibility, all the while enjoying freedom, and impacting health care in the most positive of ways. With Danes one finds a culture proactive in keeping their own good health, along with protecting planetary health. These are all parts of the same wheel of life — and it is a bicycle wheel.
In fact, a new bicycle superhighway in and around Copenhagen is projected to save the city’s health care system about $60 million a year.
Essential Elemental Forces
Bicycles [with their riders] are essential elemental forces for these Northern Europeans. This is not a country of people seeking others to do for them — they are strong and willing to do for themselves. Beautiful beliefs of travel are supported by local governments, as NPR reports: “city officials want even more people to commute, and over longer distances. So a network of 26 new bike routes, dubbed ‘the cycling superhighway,’ is being built to link the surrounding suburbs to Copenhagen.”
Lars Gaardhoj, an official with the Copenhagen capital region, says the routes will be straight and direct. “It will be very fast for people who use their bike…. So now the bike is going to challenge the car.”
Sometimes, with differences in cultures, the left is the right and the right is the left. However, in this case, “both right and left-leaning politicians regularly ride bikes to work, it has bilateral support,” NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley writes. That seems not simply as a completely different culture than ours, but a more vibrant planet of kindness and composure.
I believe many of us in the US want to catch up to such a considerate culture, and enjoy super bike highways. To bike seriously in this country can be somewhat of a thin line between being a bike lover, a bike activist, and considering the possibility of a death or injury wish. I do not mean to say as avid cyclists we want to be hurt. It is just hard to avoid it with the difficult structure of urban terrains (especially in my state of Florida).
Supporting the Needs of Bikers
While we chug along, though, Copenhagen keeps innovating: “Several innovations are being tested, like ‘green wave’ technology, which times traffic lights to suit bikers. If you maintain a certain pace, you can ride all the way through into the city without stopping. There are also footrests with bars to lean on at traffic lights, and a bike pump every mile in case you have a flat.”
Now, I do love trains and would be simply ecstatic to have trains included more in our transit system, as they are in all of Europe. However, for Soulva Jensen, an older woman in Denmark, biking prevails even in lieu of trains. “83-year-old Soulva Jensen is using the highway to visit her daughter in a neighboring town. ‘The trains are too much trouble at the moment, so I thought it was easier to take the bike,’ she says.”
“Once the highway network is completed, an estimated 15,000 additional people will switch from driving to biking. And that, say officials, will have a direct impact on the environment, public health and finances. The bike highway alone is expected to save Copenhagen’s health care system some $60 million a year.”
It is simply a different consciousness, a very empowered one at that.