By Susan Farewell
On my last trip to Denmark, I found myself feeling extremely jealous of the Copenhageners. Not because the whole city seems to have a perpetual air of carnival. Not because of the tasteful architecture and thought-provoking art that’s everywhere. Not because it’s home to some of the most progressive restaurants in the world. No, I was turning green because everyone there gets to ride a bike every day, if they so choose.
We all know Copenhagen has jumped to the head of the line as far as leading the world in energy efficiency, goes. In fact, I recently read that the average Copenhagener emits 4.9 tons of CO2 per year, which is about four times less than the average American.
As far as I can see, there has been such a dramatic decrease because everyone there is participating in the effort to reduce CO2 emissions, every day, in many ways.
No where else is that more evident than on the streets of Copenhagen, where bicycles are increasingly replacing cars as the transportation of choice. In this Danish capital, as much as 36% percent of the population rides to work, to school, the supermarket, the playground, wherever they need to go every day, whatever the weather. At rush hours, the bike lanes, which cover a distance of more than 300 kilometers (with plans of expansion), are completely packed with cyclists, many in dress clothes, forming a collective snake that winds its way along the waterfront, over bridges, through parks.
Even tourists can sightsee by bike. Guides from City Safari lead visitors through the 800-year-old streets, frequently dismounting along the way to point out details.
This is not a biking boom that happened by accident. The Nordic city has been developing the cycling culture here very methodically in recent years, creating dedicated bike tracks and routes, synchronizing traffic lights, and establishing efficient racks and storage areas. It has become a part of the lifestyle , complete with an I BIKE COPENHAGEN social networking site. Not only is it a great way to exercise and avoid getting stuck in traffic but to save money. It’s also one way to contribute to the world’s efforts to preserve Mother Earth. By the year 2015, an estimated 50% of the city’s population will travel by bike, saving 80,000 tons of CO2 a year.