I’ve been living in Copenhagen for four and a half months now. At this point I am starting to get accustomed to life here. I’ve started using basic Danish sentences when shopping (though they come out Swedish half the time). I go outside when the sun is shining because I can’t be sure it ever will again. When I walk among the tourists in the city in my sunglasses and leather jacket with a Joe and the Juice cup in my hand, I feel somewhat like a local.
Naturally, now that I am an honorary Copenhagener, I get to be an authority on one of the most important parts of this city: cycling. I have an especially long commute that sees me bike more than 20 km each day, so I have seen my fair share of different cyclists. And just like there are crazy drivers out there, there are plenty of ways you can be a terrible cyclist. Here are my 4 worst offenders:
Yes, taking the same route to work or class every day gets boring. Once you’ve memorized where you need to turn, it becomes easy to cycle on auto-pilot. That still doesn’t excuse those cyclists who wrongly assume they have the whole path to themselves and spend it dilly-dallying back in forth in a way that makes it impossible to pass them.
3. Pros who use you for drafting
Since I live so far from the heart of the city, I encounter a lot of hardcore sport cyclists decked out in their tight clothes, riding their speedy bikes on the cycling paths that stretch far outside the city. Of course, the bike paths in the city are also used by a lot of amateur cyclists as transportation rather than sport training. It is a bit unsettling when someone who knows all the tricks to maintaining speed in the wind (and let’s face it, it’s windy 100% of the time here) follows you closely and barely leaves any space while passing.
Everyone knows texting while driving is bad, yet somehow this logic has not been applied to other forms of transportation. Texting cyclists may weave back and forth on the path even more often than daydreamers, and usually their speed drops drastically as soon as they pull out their phones. Their awareness of their surroundings disappears and they never notice when you’re trying to pass them.
I’m cheating a little bit by putting non-cyclists at the top of my list, but scooters in Copenhagen are the worst. The worst. Since they aren’t fast enough for all the cars on the street, they get to use the bike paths. Outside of the city this is okay, although the roaring wind that you are inevitably cycling against makes it hard to hear scooters until they are already passing you. But when 200 cyclists are waiting at a traffic light during the morning rush hour and you suddenly hear that annoying little engine behind you, it becomes seriously dangerous. Suddenly you have a vehicle that is travelling 10 km/h faster and taking up twice as much room wanting to pass a bunch of cyclists that are trying to corral a giant group of people into three invisible lanes on the bike path. Like I said, the worst.
I published this post and then realised I hadn’t include my biggest cycling pet peeve: friends who insist on cycling next to each other. There is a time and a place where you can get away with this because there aren’t many others on the cycle path, but that time is NOT the morning or evening rush hour, and that place is NOT in the middle of the city.