Skrzypinski_Copenhagen by caskrzyp


									                                                   SPECIAL REPORT 15
                                                                                   S U N D A Y , A P R I L 16 , 2 0 0 6

          It’s pedal power
            for the Danes
                  For many, cycling is the preferred mode of
                 transport and part of the rhythm of daily life
Catherine Skrzypinski

           USH HOUR IN the Danish

R          capital can get scary –
           and that is just in the
           cycle lane. Many
Copenhageners leave their cars at
home to avoid traffic jams, only
to find themselves caught up in a
teeming crowd of cyclists.
    Many of the two-wheelers are
aggressive and unforgiving, most
demonstrably when some poor
soul slows down in the fast lane
of a congested bike path, only to
receive a shower of expletives and
not very polite hand gestures.
    But Copenhagen’s cyclists can         Cyclists avoid the capital’s rush hour traffic. Photo: Nick Walker
take most things in their stride. In
general, the city cycling                 Denmark’s supermarkets). Once           the peak time for riding the
experience never feels as                 one has inserted a 20-kroner            national routes is between May
maddening as being trapped in a           ($25) coin as a deposit, you are        and September when, because of
gridlock of “normal” traffic.             free to ride around Copenhagen’s        Denmark’s far northerly latitude,
    The city’s cycling awareness is       remarkably compact centre, an           the sun is out until late evening.
highly developed. There is, for           enchanting cityscape of elegant             The most easily accessible
example, an informal                      baroque architecture and copper-        bike route for tourists and locals
“motorway” system with the                green church spires.                    is the path along Strandvejen
inner strip for slow and medium-              Stands stocked with City Bikes      (Beach Way) from Copenhagen
paced cyclists, and the outer             are concentrated around the             north towards Helsingor
track for the high-velocity types.        Central train station, Metro            (Elsinore), a town whose claim to
Speeding past Nyhavn, the                 (underground) stations and stops        fame is centred on Kronborg
frenetic waterfront area lined            along the S-tog (commuter-train         Castle, the setting for much of
with barges, cyclists whizz past          lines) and parking lots and             William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
canary-yellow city buses,                 shopping centres. Once the bike             On this 50km route through
Mercedes-Benz taxis and baby              is returned, so is the 20 kroner        North Zealand, cyclists can take a
carriages. The numbers are fairly         coin. Essentially, it is a free ride    breather and gaze at the beautiful
even, with about half the traffic         throughout the city.                    art and scenery at the Louisiana
being leg-powered. But when                   The popularity of                   Museum of Modern Art, which
accelerating from traffic lights,         Copenhagen’s City Bikes brought         overlooks the coastline of
the cyclists win every time.              free bicycles to Aarhus,                Sweden’s Skåne province, a part
    Denmark is famously one of            Denmark’s second city on the            of Sweden that has, over the
the most bicycle-friendly                 Jutland peninsula. However, hilly       centuries, belonged to Denmark.
countries in Europe. In this day          Aarhus is more challenging to the           Surrounded by forest, the park
of high-priced petrol and parking,        City Bike cyclist so the scheme is      serves as an atmospheric setting
and increasing public transport           not as widespread or popular            for displaying the museum’s
fares, Danes are more likely to           there. Nevertheless, it provides an     collection of modern sculptures
take to the road on two wheels            excellent means of taking in the        and paintings.
than four than any other                  sights of provincial Denmark.               Further afield is Strandvejen,
Europeans, with the exception of              Cycling is not just confined to     which features huge villas along
their cousins in Holland.                 Denmark’s metropolitan areas.           the beach, and Bellavista, an icon
    Factor in the kind of high eco-       Travelling long distances around        of architecture designed by Arne
awareness found across                    the country on a bike is a popular      Jacobsen, a renowned architect
Scandinavia and the nation’s flat         holiday option for Danes and            who influenced the modern
topography, and you have a                tourists.                               perception of Danish design.
country where cycling is part of              The country is connected by a           Danes love cycling. Cycling is
the rhythm of daily life.                 network of 10 cycling routes.           a way of life in Denmark, and it
    “Even though I have a car and         Most routes are flat or have            satisfies a national craving for the
use public transport, I still prefer      slightly hilly paths.                   great outdoors and open air –
my bike,” said Jakob Werner, a                Ideal for an 8-10 day holiday,      “frisk luft”.
Copenhagen-based journalist.
    “Riding a bike gives me a
sense of freedom. I can travel at a
speed that enables me to people               TOUR DE DENMARK
watch and enjoy the architecture              For those who would rather watch professional cyclists race than
of the city.”                                 do it themselves along one of many Denmark’s cycle paths, the
    About three out of four Danes             Post Danmark Rundt takes place every August.
own a bike. And cycling is                        Professional riders across the country are greeted by tens of
integral to the nation’s culture. As          thousands of spectators. The atmosphere is electric, much like
if to illustrate this point to visitors       the Tour de France, albeit on a more modest scale.
across the capital, no less than                  The 2006 Danmark Rundt will begin on August 2 in
2,000 City Bikes are available for            Frederikshavn in the northern part of the country, travel
tourists and natives to use on                throughout Jutland to Odense on the island of Funen, and make
payment of a small deposit.                   its way back to Zealand. The grand finale will be in Copenhagen on
    “[The Copenhagen City Bikes]              August 6.
are a good introduction to the                    For more information: Introduction to cycling in Denmark
concept of riding a bike in the     
city, which is not so common                  aktivferie/cykel/cycling.htm Bike paths in Denmark http://
outside Copenhagen and              
Amsterdam. It provides tourists               Cycle holidays throughout Denmark http://
with that special travel             http://
experience,” Mr Werner said.        
    Each bicycle has a coin slot
(similar to shopping carts in

    Proud heritage built on ice
Nick Walker                                  The majority of Greenlanders         The island’s official languages are
                                          are Inuit (Eskimo), whose               Greenlandic and Danish.
                                          presence pre-dated Erik the Red’s           The capital, Nuuk, is an

           Erik the Red named a           arrival by a couple of thousand         attractive town of about 14,000. Its
           vast, icy and barren tract     years. The country has had a            Danish-style architecture is set
of land “Greenland” some time in          relatively large Danish population      against a distinctly un-Danish
the 10th century, and invited             for centuries. Today there are          landscape of craggy snow-covered
people to come and live there, he         some 8,000 Danish residents, and        mountains surrounding a
must have known he was not                in all about 56,300 hardy souls call    magnificent fjord.
offering the most inviting piece of       Greenland home.                             The town’s lively harbour is a
real estate around.                          Since 1979, Greenland has            port of call for trawlers. Most of
    But the intrepid redhead did          enjoyed a special status, home          the vessels bear Danish
generate interest in this                 rule within the kingdom, but its        registration, while the others hail
inhospitable island, whose ice-cap        foreign policy, security, currency      from Iceland, Norway, Russia and
covers more than 80 per cent of its       and other key aspects of                further afield.
surface.                                  governance are decided in                   Fishing is a mainstay of the
    Despite its polar location,           Copenhagen.                             Greenland economy, with 10 per
Greenland has sustained a                    The education policy is              cent of the population involved in
number of vibrant population              handled by Greenland authorities,       the industry. Tons of shrimp,
centres over the centuries. Most of       but Danish is the medium of             salmon and cod are sold in
these cling to the west coast, parts      instruction in schools. The             Denmark proper, often in the
of which are ice-free year-round.         curriculum emphasises                   form of smørrebrød-sized morsels
    At 2.16 million square                Greenland’s pre-Danish heritage         on rye bread in Copenhagen
kilometres, Greenland is the              and the island’s ties to Denmark.       restaurants.
world’s largest island. It is closer                                                  Danes have an affection for
to Canada than any place in                                                       Greenland, past and present, that
Europe, but its towns have a                                                      is similar to the British nostalgia
decidedly Danish flavour. Much of                                                 for the Indian Raj, a feeling that
the architecture, with russet-red                                                 encompasses a hankering for the
and white colouration and a sense                                                 exotic and an attachment to
of spaciousness, is also clearly                                                  history.
Danish, and the legal currency is                                                     Many of Copenhagen’s
the Danish krone.                                                                 venerable bars and restaurants
    It is commonly assumed that                                                   house artefacts from Greenland
Denmark is one of Europe’s                                                        and old Danish trawlers that have
smallest countries, but when you                                                  braved the raging northern seas.
include Greenland, which is a part                                                    Greenland constitutes a rich
of the Kingdom of Denmark (with                                                   part of the nation’s cultural
two seats in the Danish                                                           tapestry, incorporating Nordic
Parliament), the country looms                                                    and Inuit motifs.
larger in terms of land extent than                                                   Any Danish child will tell you
anywhere in Europe, except                A mantle of ice covers more than        that Santa Claus lives not in
Russia.                                   80 per cent of Greenland’s surface.     Lapland, but in Greenland.

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