Just like any other metropolitan city, Copenhagen has its challenges with busy commuter traffic during peak hours. Except in Denmark’s capital, where over 50% of locals travel to work on bicycles, it’s the bike jams causing concern.
That’s a good problem to have. In fact, so many other big cities want to copy Copenhagen’s urban planning bravado that there’s even a word for it: "Copenhagenization."
The Danes are passionate about sustainable urban living above and beyond their affinity for two wheels. It’s been this way since the 1970s oil crunch. Their obsession became official during the international COP 15 Climate Change Conference in 2009. Following that, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been seeking local and global partners to help create the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025.
I hooked up with a group of other visitors at Bike With Mike, a well established bicycle tour operator. This is one of the best ways to explore the city like a local and learn about Danish culture. We stopped a dozen times at places like the sleek Copenhagen Opera House and leafy King’s Garden Park, where hundreds of people drop their bikes on the grass and talk in circles.
Mike also provides his own personal opinions about Danish lifestyle, ranging from the world’s best healthcare system to furniture design. Although, he questions Denmark’s title as the World’s Happiest Country.
“I’m not sure about that,” he laughs. “All we do is complain about taxes and the weather.”