London will feel dangerous when I get back tomorrow. Denmark’s drivers are incredibly well-behaved and aware of cyclists. Bikes have priority, for instance on roundabouts, which usually have a bike lane around the edge, making it clear that cars have to make way for you.
Bikes are kept out of the way of cars, as much as possible, though. Whether purpose built lanes, footpaths or spaces on the side of the road, you can expect that most of the time you’ll be cycling where cars aren’t allowed to travel.
Back in London, most days I see some sort of dangerous driving. Car drivers, I’m sorry to say, regard bikes as just another vehicle, that can be intimidated if needed. Bike reservations near junctions are only really honoured at rush hour, and bike lanes frequently ignored.
It’s easy to suppose that Denmark is a ‘natural candidate’ for cycling, but I suspect that is not really the case. For one thing, winter weather must be a severe inconvenience. In the west, the winds are fierce all year round. It’s not as flat as you might think, particularly on the east coast of the mainland.
Yet Danish cycling does not disappear because there are hills or wind. There is a broader mindset at work. Cyclists are well provided for, so it’s a good option for everyone. It’s encouraged, and people of all ages cycle for work and leisure.
If you were looking for a natural candidate for cycling, London would surely be it. We still have pretty poor and expensive public transport, cars are slow, London is flat and the weather is mild.
I’ll miss Denmark and its cycling. In 700 miles, I’ve encountered a tiny number of very slight traffic incidents. That really won’t be how it is back in London.