Danish Life So Far

Bikes, transit, and pastries

I am busy settling into Danish life and haven't finished any of my half-done posts. There is just too much to do setting up my home. Here are some thoughts and observations from the process.

I’m building a Nordic bike

This week, I visited a cool hipster-y bike shop called Recycles that specializes in taking pre-2000 steel frames and restoring them into working bikes. There, I picked out this retro frame from France, a drivetrain, fenders, lights, and handlebars.

In a week or two, I will be the proud owner of a three-speed Nordic city bike. This bike should be lighter than my old mountain bike and should work better in urban conditions. For example, coaster brakes are common on adult city bikes here to efficiently stop in wet and salty conditions, not just on kid’s bikes, like in the US.

Bike infrastructure

Copenhagen has an incredible bicycle infrastructure. In addition to the vast network of bike lanes, the s-tog, metro, and harbor bus all allow bikes for most of the day in a straightforward manner. This infrastructure is present in smaller ways. Almost all outdoor staircases have channels or ramps to walk bikes down. Like the one that was added to this staircase up to an S-tog platform, below.

The one place where this is incongruent is the bus system. There are no bike racks on the front of buses like there are on Metrobuses in Washington, DC. Instead, up to two bikes can be brought onto certain buses at certain times if they are empty enough. This makes bike-bus-bike multimodal transportation rough and explains why some Danes have different bikes for different parts of their commute. Also, the time between buses tends to be long near where I live (20 minutes or more). Just like in DC, the headways preclude showing up for the bus without checking the timetable as a viable transportation option. Even in one of the best transit cities in the world, there is always something to gripe about!

My My Metrocard

Not the 1999 Le Tigre song, but the Rejsekort, the metrocard of Copenhagen. Unlike most cities in the US and London where they bend over backward to get you to use their system, Copenhagen is much more like Paris where you have to do some legwork to get one. There are a couple of kinds of Rejsekorts:

  • Personal

  • Flex

  • Anonymous

  • Corporate

  • School

All, except the anonymous, can only be ordered by someone with a Danish ID number. The Rejsekort Anonymous can be purchased by a non-resident of Denmark but has to be purchased at Copenhagen central station or at a limited number of newsstand-type retailers. I got one, but it was quite a bit more difficult than I expected. I guess that Denmark would like tourists to buy paper or electronic tickets at full price instead of the reduced fares through a Rejeskort.

Pastry of the day

I got this treat in Østerbro the other day. One of the best, and worst, parts of living here is the easy access to high-quality pastries from local bakeries.