May Bike Month the Tin Lizzie Way

May is National Bike Month, and I’m thinking of ways to celebrate the Tin Lizzie way – fashion and accessories, all things reflective, and bike travel! bike_month_web_FB2Here’s a round-up of current interests and faves:

Fashion

I’ve signed up for Me Made May 2016, a challenge for people who sew, knit, crochet, upcycle/recycle and refashion clothing for themselves. Although each participant can set their own goals, most apparently aim to wear something they’ve made every day in May. That’s a lot of handmade clothing! My goal is to wear as much of my own clothing as possible, and to make a list of what I wish I could wear, and then at the end of the month, I’ll see what gaps I have and figure out what to make next. mmmay16final

In the meantime, there are some other bike-y fashions and accessories to admire. Personal favorite Cleverhood has come up with a new Indigogo campaign for Cleverlite, a simpler version of the original ‘hood, in lighter weight fabrics, and made in Fall River, MA. I’ve already pledged – the lightweight cape will be perfect when The Mechanic and I go to Disney World in 2017.

Cleverlite - image from Indigogo webpage

Cleverlite – image from Indigogo webpage

Another fun new bike fashion product is Esperanza Workshop. Started by a friend of a former colleague, Esperanza’s bike bags are hand made in Oakland, CA, out of waxed linen, which are scraps from another local company – how cool is that?! Talk about sustainable fashion. Jen, the founder, tells her origin story on her blog (hint: no cool designs for women…) – I really like that she’s taken her bike bags to international destinations, because that sort of versatility is what I look for in the perfect bag. Plus, the texture of the waxed linen is really cool. Personally, I like the Kate Envelope clutch, because it’s funky yet neutral, and large enough to be really useful. **Jen is generously offering a 10% off discount through the month of May using the discount code TINLIZZIE. Nice!** 

Esperanza Workshops Kate Envelope Bag (Photo by Amanda Barnes Photography for Esperanza Workshop)

Esperanza Workshops Kate Envelope Bag (Photo by Amanda Barnes Photography for Esperanza Workshop)

Reflective Things

Herschel Supply Co. has come up with more lust-worthy reflective bags. They are part of the new “Packable” collection, so lightweight as well (I see a theme…). I like the tote bag – simple, vertical, black, reflective… what’s not to love?!

Herschel Supply Co Reflective Tote, image from website

Herschel Supply Co Reflective Tote, image from website

Speaking of reflective bags, ICNY Sport has some great reflective bags as well. Most of this NYC line is geared towards guys, with baseball caps and oversized tee shirts, but I really like what they are doing. So their packable reflective backpack caught my eye on Instagram – it’s not 100% reflective, but the price, $25, is better. Although their cool collab tote bag with fellow Brooklyn company D’Emploi is sold out, so if you want this backpack, buy it quick!

Travel

The Mechanic scored a fabulous Craigslist find last week – a sleek, simple Tern folding bike! We’ve been talking about replacing our road bikes with folding bikes for ages, and finally it’s happening! My road bike is gone <sniff> and in its place is a matte black Tern, named Amsel, which is German for “black bird.” Seemed appropriate! The Mechanic had to take apart the internal gear hub, to discover it was not only rusty but full of water, so we haven’t played around with it much. Doesn’t matter – I am now busy plotting trips to take folding bikes on! Once we get a second folding, we’ll be able to take them to Northwest Arkansas when we visit The Mechanic’s father this summer; I really want to bike on the Razorback Greenway, a “heritage” trail that connects much of northwest Arkansas. I don’t know the area, so riding bikes through this part of the country really appeals to me. And if we go to Berlin for Christmas, well, we won’t need to rent bikes, we’ll have our own! Closer to home, now we can take folding bikes on Amtrak to Philadelphia and then bike to Bartram’s Garden, America’s oldest botanical garden and 45-acre National Historic Landmark.

Meet Amsel - I am so excited about this bike!

Meet Amsel – I am so excited about this bike!

In other bicycle travel news, it’s a big deal that U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently toured Copenhagen by bicycle, along with three US mayors. Although Secretary Foxx and the mayors were possibly the only people out on bikes wearing helmets, it’s exciting that they were able to experience what The Mechanic and I, and so many others, love about biking in Copenhagen. I hope that all four are able to convince others that this is something we should strive towards for our nation as well.

Bike Month Action Items:

Sign up for the National Bike Challenge, if you haven’t yet! This challenge not only gives you points for every day you ride, it lasts four months, so there is plenty of time to rack up total points. Put together a team or just personally compete with someone else on the leader board. It’s a fun way to get more people biking.

If you are in the DC area, attend the National Museum of Women in the Arts event, Fresh Talk: Women on Wheels, on Sunday, May 15th. Asking if the bicycle can be an agent of change (um, yes), speakers will share their thoughts, plus there will be a “Sunday Supper” meal afterwards. I’ll be there – let me know if you will be as well so we can meet up!

Other bicycle events in May include National Bike to School Day, May 4th, and Bike to Work Day DC, May 20.

And if you find any cool bike fashions to share, there’s no better time! Let’s celebrate all things bike-y (and reflective!) this month!

My Danish Bike Light

While I was in Vancouver, a colleague and his girlfriend were dashing around Europe, culminating their trip in Copenhagen. Although they were there for Noma, they graciously (and perhaps patiently on her part) ducked into a few bike shops in search of the light that goes on the front of my Copenhagen-purchased front basket. Last summer I took a picture of one when The Mechanic and I were briefly in Copenhagen, so I begged my colleague to look while he was there.

Success!  

 
He found the perfect light! Flat, with bolts that fit the panel on the front of my basket, and an on-and-off switch under the realtors.  

 
It was super easy to install, although The a Mechanic is going to cut the bolts down so they don’t snag whatever I put in the basket. I love the way it looks, too. The front basket finally feels complete.  

 
I do wish it had a blink option, and it’s not as bright as my current front light, but since I rarely ride after dark on the unlit trails, I don’t foresee this being a problem. I’m sure this light is enough for Copenhageners, who get to bike in separated bike lanes in mostly well-lit streets. (Yes, envious.) 

I also looked up Spectra – spectraparts.com – and they sell some lovely bike bags. Lesigh. The tag says “made in Finland,” although I don’t know if that refers to the card or the light, and there is a CyclEurope logo on the back. It’s hard not to be envious.

But for now I am quite happy with my Danish bike light! It feels perfectly, no?  

 

Too Many Bikes – I Can’t Imagine

A story has been circulating lately that has many bike advocates and people who bike wishing they had this problem – Amsterdam has run out of bike parking, and the city is contemplating building underground parking for 7,000 bikes! For the rest of us, this is unbelievable, mind blowing, a wet dream, or all of the above. I mean, the city plans to spend 200 million Euros on new bicycle infrastructure (as part of it’s long range planning)! This makes me want to cry.

Amsterdam Bicycle Parking near the Central Station

Amsterdam Bicycle Parking near the Central Station

The city is considering underground bike parking, as well as adding more floating bike parking stations, around the Central Train Station, to a whopping total of 21,500 by 2030. Construction isn’t expected to start until 2017, but I have no doubt it will happen – 43% of Amsterdam residents bike to and from work, according to the City Lab article, with over 50% biking daily.

Floating Bike Parking near Amsterdam's Central Station

Floating Bike Parking near Amsterdam’s Central Station

I have to confess, however, that my first thought was, “Well get rid of the abandoned bikes first!” When we were in Amsterdam last summer, we noticed that not only are the racks crammed full of bikes, a great number of those bikes appear to be abandoned. I’m pretty sure that flat tires, rusted or broken chains, missing parts, etc., is a good sign that a bike hasn’t been ridden in a while. And City Lab reports that Amsterdam removed 73,000 “wrongly” parked bikes in 2013, so I guess they do keep tabs on that. Copenhagen was the same way: we saw seas of parked bikes, only to get close and realize that a significant percentage were clearly not ridden on a regular basis. Apparently it’s a problem that urban planners and others in Copenhagen are just beginning to realize and recognize.

Sure, this might not be an abandoned bike. Someone may have parked it this way on purpose.

Sure, this might not be an abandoned bike. Someone may have parked it this way on purpose.

They might look rusty to us but are probably (?) well-used bikes!

They might look rusty to us but are probably (?) well-used bikes!

This story has reduced me to sighing wistfully and clicking through photos of both our visits to Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I know The Mechanic and I remarked on those trips about the sheer number of bicycles in mass bike parking lots, and how we wished we had the problem of abandoned bikes piled up on the racks. I mean, how does one cram one’s bike into an overcrowded rack?! I guess that’s part of the reason they all ride clunkers.

Where do you put your bike in this Copenhagen bike parking?!

Where do you put your bike in this Copenhagen bike parking?!

That bike on the top row of this Copenhagen bike rack is what I'd call "wrongly parked."

That bike on the top row of this Copenhagen bike rack is what I’d call “wrongly parked.”

I'm willing to bet that all these bikes in front of Copenhagen's Magasin du Nord are there just for the 50% off sale!

I’m willing to bet that all these bikes in front of Copenhagen’s Magasin du Nord are there just for the 50% off sale!

While we struggle to get adequate parking in most places in this country, we can all dream of the day when we have the Amsterdam problem of too many bikes, not enough bike parking. Someday….

Copenhagen Part 4: Bus and S-Tog Fun!

The pleasant surprise of our trip was that Copenhagen is not only a bicycle-friendly city, it is also a public transportation-friendly city. I was constantly amazed by the bus and S-tog system, which we used every single one of our eight-day stay.

Our apartment was near several bus lines and two S-tog (metro trains) stations, but we mostly rode the bus. It was a direct line from half a block from our apartment building to the 66 bus, and we never waited for more than 10 minutes, even on Sundays and the holidays. 100_8706The buses were very quiet! Not only was there little noise from the bus itself, but the passengers were remarkably quiet. The bus drivers all played soft music, and we could hear it in the middle of the bus. Even the crowded buses were not really loud. If you’ve been on a crowded WMATA bus, you know how loud they can get! 100_8305

The buses all had wheelchair-accessible jump seats that seemed to be mostly used for baby carriages. P1040829And luggage! Even when the buses were full, parents would calmly and politely edge their huge baby carriages into this space, and equally calmly and politely other passengers would shuffle to accommodate them. I really appreciated how everything was labeled and intended for wheelchair, baby carriage, and bicycle (well, not on the bus, not even outside racks for bikes). It shows attention to the entire population, making the system accessible to everyone, comfortably and easily. That is definitely missing here.

But no bringing your hot dogs on the bus!

But no bringing your hot dogs on the bus!

The buses, and the S-tog, were equipped with free wifi, but you had to be a local to set up an account; I tried. But I think it’s a great idea for a public transportation system to offer free wifi, especially on trains. You could get work done, or at least update your Facebook status or blog without losing signal every few stops.100_8946

There seemed to be several different ways of paying fares, and here again the Copenhagen system was technologically more advanced. With your free wifi, you could apparently purchase your ticket, then just show it, on your phone, to the bus driver. I saw several phones waved at drivers. We seemed to be the only ones with the klipkord, or clip card. Valid for ten rides, we had to validate it every time we got on a bus or S-tog. Conveniently, we didn’t each need to get a card, we could both ride on one. There was also a big blue dot system that must be a smart card – you touch your card to the dots to either tag in or tag out of the system. 100_8829100_9350100_8300

The S-tog trains were the most thrilling link in the transit puzzle, because they offered bicycle-specific sections of the trains, generally half of the last car. There were bicycle locations on the platform to stand, and then racks inside the car to stand your bike in. And they were used! It was full on the day after Boxing Day, clearly the first day back to work for everyone. Again, the car also was marked for wheelchair and baby carriages. And there were elevators large enough to comfortably fit more than one bicycle! Have you tried to cram your bike into a WMATA elevator and felt folded into a pretzel? I have.100_8844100_8940100_8950Once inside the train, and out of the bike section, there were other luxuries to behold – again, the free wifi, but also plush seats, overhead luggage racks, tv monitors, and clear doors inside, making sections of the train. There was even a quiet section! I don’t know if the internal set of doors is to help keep everyone warm when the main doors open, and expose the winter elements (or, conversely, the summer heat), but that would be my guess. Either way, it was very fancy!100_8839Isn’t it amazing? It’s so… civilized. And it makes me sad to think that these things can’t happen here, because there isn’t enough will for it, political, social, economic.  Copenhagen has a much longer history of public transportation and biking, a much more mature, integrated system, and that is something we will not see here. But I’m happy to continue to work towards it!100_8831

 

 

 

Copenhagen Part 3: Bicycle Infrastructure

I think the bicycle infrastructure in Copenhagen must be the best example of  “If you build it, they will come.” 100_9181

I did some research since we got back, and discovered that Copenhagen, despite the boom in bike riding during war-time gasoline rationing, had succumbed to the lure of the automobile, and had become “car-clogged” by the 1960s. The energy crisis and recession in the 70s led to a resurgence in alternate means of transportation, and after massive demonstrations demanding better bicycle infrastructure, the government began to install bike lanes and more. (Info from the Copenhagen Cycling Embassy) Can you imagine that? Demonstrations demanding the government improve cycling! When do we start?!

Here are some of those famous bicycle infrastructure investments, now paid off a million times over.

Completely separate bicycle lanes. Not only are the bike lanes wide enough for cyclists to pass each other, they are raised above the street level, separated with stone, and right next to the sidewalk (which is then higher than the bike lane). Parking spots were then in between the lanes and the streets, lessening the chance that a car will pull out in front of you unexpectedly.100_8230

The bus stops are on the sidewalk, and the bus stops outside the bike lane. People step off into the bike lane, which would be problematic here, but in Copenhagen, people on bikes stop or slow down for passengers getting on or off the bus. It’s not a big deal, they just do it.

Bike lanes are painted blue through intersections or questionable lane changes. Through many intersections, the blue lanes also had bicycle symbols painted the entire way, so it was clear to drivers that it was a bike lane.100_8307

Bicycles had their own left turn lanes in many intersections, as well as their own stop lights. They also had their own right turn lanes.100_8327100_8603

Where the bicycle lane turned into right turn lanes, they were marked to show that both were permitted, with the blue lane continuing through the intersection.100_8319

The day it snowed, we were dumbfounded to emerge from our tasty Nimb Brasserie lunch to discover that the bike lane had been cleared before the street! And there were people out on bikes in the snow, too, although I couldn’t get a good picture of them. (Side note – the snow plows were fairly small, not the ginormous ones you find here, perfect size for a bike lane.)100_8434

There were bike racks everywhere! Many large stores had between 25-50 spots for bicycles in front of them, plus there were racks in open spaces, and if those were full, the bikes were just locked in somewhat orderly rows (you can do this when you use ring locks). There were also several different types of racks.100_8822100_8599100_9146100_9211

Grocery stores had bike parts! You could buy sets of lights, pumps, reflective tape, repair kits, and even sets of tire levers, along with your yogurt, cereal, veggies and wine. We went into a huge supermarket in Malmo, Sweden, with a larger bike section than automotive section! There we found tires, inner tubes, reflectors, reflective vests, and more. Boy was that a fun stop!100_8931100_8929100_9038

Malmo had slightly different lanes and bicycle stop lights, and they also had a huge city bike map posted next to an air hose. The air hose was marked for bicycles, wheelchairs, and baby buggies – as in Copenhagen, everything that was bicycle-friendly was also wheelchair and baby buggy friendly. We need that sort of focus here: what is good for bicycles is good for all.100_9011

We were excited to get to bike past the bike counter ourselves one day. When we went by around 11am, the counter read 8211 for the day so far, then when we passed it on our way home that night, it read over 11,000. 100_9182

I’ve seen so many pictures of the footrests for cyclists and it was cool to be able to use it myself, although pushing off from it was challenging. Or maybe that was the coaster brakes giving me problems again.100_9159P1040750

The Green Wave is where certain roads have had the green lights timed just perfectly so that you can bike along at about 12mph and hit a green light at every intersection. It’s in effect during rush hours, so you can make it across the city faster.  Sometimes I feel as if I’ve hit every red light the entire way to work, so I’d love this option!100_9186

The Green Cycle Routes are somewhat similar to the Green Wave but more relaxed. They are basically bike lanes that cross the city removed from the main roads. When we rode it (in pouring rain), it felt like being in a park. I’m sure that when the weekends are nice, it’s packed with families.100_9234

All the S-tog stations had tons of bike racks, some that were double-decker bike racks. I did see some bikes with yellow tape around the back fender and tire – I assume they were tagging potentially abandoned bikes. We did see many abandoned bikes, in varying states of destruction, which made me sad.100_9189100_9192

We only came across this in one location, but it was where we needed it, so we were very grateful – rails to push your bike up the stairs (or down). I’d love to see these everywhere. 100_9238

As you can see, the city has gone far beyond just painting a few bike lanes. This would be why people bike 1.2 million kilometers every day in Copenhagen. According to the City, 37% are commuting to school or work. If our cities could be even half this bike-friendly, maybe we could slowly approach that number here as well.

Hey, a girl can dream!

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See also:

Copenhagen Part 1: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Copenhagen Part 2: First Bike Impressions

Copenhagen Part 2: First Bike Impressions

Once The Mechanic and I got over our initial giddy shock at the sheer number of bikes we saw upon arrival in Copenhagen, we began to look a bit more closely. Here are some of the things we saw:

  • We saw very few bikes with drop handles; most were “hybrid,” “comfort” or “Cruiser” style bikes, “sit up and beg” bikes, and whatever else the men’s versions would be called. 100_8592100_8606100_8253
  • Most of the bikes had at least one basket, either in front or in back, of varying sorts of materials – wire, wood, wicker, plastic. Just about every bike had a back rack with bungees or that strong spring. Very few panniers. I mentioned to the saleswoman in one bike shop that I predominately use panniers and she seemed confused.100_9008
  • In the same theme, we saw maybe a handful of cyclists in Lycra the entire eight days we were there. And little hi-viz clothing: half of what we did see was on runners.
  • It seemed to me like most of the cyclists were women, but at least half of them were.100_8711
  • People of all ages were on bikes. I noticed several older people, including one older woman wearing a full-length fur coat. She looked extremely stylish.
  • There were plenty of children on bikes  and many bikes had baby seats. There were different styles of child seats on bikes too, like the bucket style on the top tube with foot rests mounted on the head tube. I only saw one dad with the bike attachment, and the boy was leaning at a frightening angle. Most kids rode in the Christiania cargo bike front bucket. 100_9326
  • Many people were wearing helmets, and the bike shops were full of helmets. Most were of the solid helmet style, like Nutcase or Yakkay.
  • Many of the bikes had skirt guards, either in plastic “mesh” or solid vinyl. I was very excited to buy a set when we were in Malmo, Sweden.100_8646
  • The Danish Postal service uses bikes for delivery, and they were e-bikes! Same thing spotted in Malmo. That makes a ton of sense. Actually, I saw some other e-bikes here and there.100_9240100_9075
  • Everyone used hand signals. It was pretty impressive to watch.
  • Everyone walked their bikes through crosswalks. I know we are supposed to, but really, who does? People in Copenhagen, apparently.
  • There were bike racks everywhere, and not just one rack, but several. I counted about 50 spaces in the bike racks in front of one grocery store.100_8822
  • But no one locks their bike to anything, they just push the bikes into the rack and lock the ring lock. We were continually amazed by this. Bikes just leaning against apartment buildings, standing in lines in bike parking spaces in streets… Even strollers were left out, and we saw a motorized wheelchair outside, charging to an outdoor outlet. Okay, occasionally we’d see locks, but not very often.100_8805
  • There were a ton of new brands, and remakes of old brands. More on that later.100_9171
  • Everyone seemed to pedal very leisurely, yet the days we were out in the bike lanes, we were constantly passed!

I love the huge variety of bikes, brands, colors, styles, and riders. People weren’t decked out as “cyclists,” or “sporty athletes,” just individuals going about their day on their bikes. This is the kind of cycling I want to do, the type of cyclist I want to be, the kind of cycling culture I want to see take root in this country. I want to get us to the point that everyone, regardless of sex or age or ability, is comfortable enough to bike wherever they need to go, wearing whatever they want, and not worrying about it. I’m still not sure what it will take to get there, but improved infrastructure will help. My next post will show different aspects of the bicycle infastructure of Copenhagen.

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See also:

Copenhagen Part 1: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Copenhagen Part 3: Bicycle Infrastructure

Copenhagen Part 1: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Here it is New Year’s Eve and I should be busy thinking about this past year and what will happen in 2013, but I’m bursting to share my Copenhagen experiences! There is so much to tell, and so many pictures to share (yes, probably half my photos are of bikes, people on bikes, or bike infrastructure)! So I’ll start off with a summary of the trip, and expand in forthcoming blogs. 

The Good:

  • We had a lovely apartment in Norrebro (I wish I could type the o with the / through it but I couldn’t figure out how. So I apologize to the Danish.), found on Airbnb.  Ida, our “hostess,” (who used to work as a bike messenger) met us when we arrived, showed us around, pointed the direction to the closest grocery store, and left. She had decorated for Christmas, and left us some treats. The apartment was European-small but cozy, with two balconies that must be great in the summer. The apartment was close to several bus stops and two S-tog (metro) stations, and at least four different grocery stores. Oh, and two bike shops!
    One of the balconies in our Airbnb apartment.

    One of the balconies in our Airbnb apartment.

    The other balcony - how nice to have a corner apartment!

    The other balcony – how nice to have a corner apartment!

    The kitchen. Loved the electric kettle.

    The kitchen. Loved the electric kettle.

    I loved this little kitchen nook.

    I loved this little kitchen nook.

    So sweet of Ida to leave us Christmas treats! We loved the Pedernodder, which she said are a favorite Christmas treat, and we did see them everywhere. And brought some back...

    So sweet of Ida to leave us Christmas treats! We loved the Pedernodder, which she said are a favorite Christmas treat, and we did see them everywhere. And brought some back…

  • OMG there were bikes EVERYWHERE!!!!  Our eyes just about popped out of our heads when we walked out of Copenhagen’s Central Station to catch the bus for the first time – a sea of wheels, frames, seats, and baskets. Every bike had at least one basket, and many had both a front and back basket. And they were all “comfort” bike styles, very few with drop handle bars. And none of them were locked to anything! Yes, you heard me – the ring lock was all they used! Unbelievable!

    Just one of the bike lots around the Central Station!

    Just one of the bike lots around the Central Station!

  • Rosenborg Slot (castle) was a definite highlight beyond the bikes. The castle itself was a detailed museum, and the Royal Treasury was staggering. I’ve never been that close to a crown before, let alone three, let alone all those precious gems and all that gold. Oh my goodness, be sure to visit if you go to Copenhagen!
  • Just about everyone spoke flawless English, even in Sweden. The only person who did not was the older gentleman working in the gas station I wandered into on Christmas Day. I don’t know how they do it, although Danish sounded like a hard language to learn. Luckily, it looks a lot like German, so I was able to guess our way around based on that.
  • There were fireworks every night. Seriously – we could hear them, but not always see them. One night they were in the abandoned lot across from the apartment! But they are clearly private citizens, not anything organized by the city.

    Across the street from us!

    Across the street from us!

The Bad

  • The Mechanic had some minor health problems that unfortunately kept us from doing some of the stuff we had planned. On Christmas Day, I did the (unguided) walking tour we had wanted to do, to see the city highlights since everything was closed. We almost didn’t make it to Malmo, Sweden, either. He’s not 100% yet but got well enough to enjoy the rest of the trip.
  • The sun set at 3:45pm. Not only is that early, if you include the fact that several days were overcast, well, it truly was dark the entire day. It really confused our bodies at first!
  • The fireworks every night. I began to feel like I was living in a war zone.
  • There is soooo much to write about! I’m going to have to blog steadily for a week to share everything I want to!

The Ugly (stuff that isn’t bad, but wasn’t great, or was simply unexpected)

  • The shower in the apartment was not exactly what I’d expected. Basically, you shut the bathroom door, pull  a shower curtain over the door, then pick up the hand unit and shower over the sink and toilet. It wasn’t terrible, just unexpected. I’m sure it might have upset some, but I’ve done similar showers elsewhere in Europe. I had just forgotten, in the last 6 years, what European standards can be.

    Our shower

    Our shower

  • Everything really was closed for three days over Christmas – the 24th, 25th, and 26th. Yikes! Luckily there were a few places to find food (like the gas station and a coffee shop), but the city really did shut down to celebrate.
  • Bike helmets – contrary to what some would have us believe, Copenhagen cyclists DO wear helmets! At least a third of the cyclists I saw were wearing them. And every bike shop (and we saw many) sold dozens of them. Not what I was expecting at all!
  • There were open flames everywhere! This was actually pretty cool, but again, unexpected. This would never work in this country. Shops had small pots of fire on their stoops, there were fires in Tivoli and at the Zoo, and in other unexpected places. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen in this country, yet the Danes calmly and safely went around their business. Ah Europe.100_8260

I really want to talk about bikes, so I’m saving that for another blog post or two or three. Then there is the great bus and metro system; that’s another blog. Then bike fashion, then European cars, then bike infrastructure…  I may have to set up a Flickr album with photos, if anyone is interested in seeing more than what I blog about. But to sum up, we had a great time, and I can’t wait to go back. But this time, when the weather is warmer!

While I continue to sort pictures of bikes, I want to wish you all the best for a joyous, healthy, and happy 2013! May your biking days be many and happy, and if you don’t bike, well, you should try it! (Have I taught you nothing this whole year?!)

Cheers!

See also:

Copenhagen Part 2: First Bike Impressions

Copenhagen Part 3: Bicycle Infrastructure

Two Months to Copenhagen!

Two months from today, The Mechanic and I will be celebrating Christmas in Copenhagen!

We are both SO excited to visit the land of the everyday cyclist – even in the cold dark Danish winter we plan on doing as much biking as possible. We were told that Baisikeli is the best place to rent bicycles from, so we’ll check it out on first day there. I can’t wait to experience all the wonderful cycling we keep reading about.

But I’m also crazy excited about spending Christmas in Europe again. All that I love about Christmas, and it is my favorite holiday, seems to be European – Christmas markets with booths full of lovely local foods and crafts, gluehwein (or gloegg in Denmark), everything covered in tiny white lights, and everything seems to be just… classier.

Eight years ago, my extended family went on a Christmas river cruise in Germany, through Vantage Travel. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, aunt, uncle and cousin, plus my dad’s cousin and his wife, and I, all spent almost two weeks on a river cruise ship, from Nuremberg to Amsterdam. We arrived shortly before Christmas, and stayed a few extra days in Amsterdam, so the entire trip ended up being almost two full weeks (then a friend met me and we went back to Germany for another week. Ah grad school…). So we got to experience the Christmas markets.

Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt, one of the best.

The Nuremberg sausage is different from the other regional sausages – skinny, so it fits through a key hole. I forget the story now…

With my aunt in front of a glass ornament booth at the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt.

We had the most amazing time, and it still ranks as my best Christmas ever.

View from my cabin.

So The Mechanic has a lot to live up to! ; )

We are staying in an apartment we found on Airbnb.com. I’ve never tried this website before but it seems like a really great deal. We are renting an apartment, so we’ll have a full kitchen in an apartment in a real neighborhood, not a hotel room in some expensive (or sketchy) tourist area. We’ve already been in touch with the woman who owns the place where we will be staying, and she’s recommended all sorts of things, everything from nearby grocery stores to what Copenhageners do on Christmas Eve, which is the main part of the holiday.

My main goal for this trip (other than biking of course) is to visit Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park and “pleasure garden” that opened in 1843, and apparently inspired Walt Disney to create Disneyland. Every photo I see of it is somewhat mind-blowing. And I’ve been to Disneyland and Disney World! Apparently the Christmas market there is so amazing it’s a tradition even with the locals; several have told me they go there with their children.

Christmas lights on the Nimb Brassierie

I can’t help but get excited at the magical world these images suggest.

There are plenty of other things we’ll do while we are there, I’m sure, including Christiania (yep, the hippie -uh, free- town everyone talks about), the Christmas market at Nyhavn, shopping (I love the Georg Jensen Fusion rings!), and plain old being a tourist and seeing the sights. Whenever I get cranky or stressed, I just think about this trip, and I feel much better.

So the next several weeks will be all about what to pack for this trip. I need to minimize what I take so I can bring as much stuff home as possible. I wonder if new bike panniers or a basket can count as a carry-on?

And this time, I will get to experience Christmas with my real knight in shining armor!

I do love a man in uniform…

 

 

 

Trying to Share the (Bike) Love

It’s been a weekend of sharing the bike love, or at least trying to. We found unexpected love in Denmark, and didn’t find love during the Bike DC event.

Yesterday was the EU Open House Day in Washington, DC, a day when all the embassies invite the public to visit their grounds, and learn about their countries and the work each one does in the United States.  I went last year, and the year before that I worked in the German Embassy for the German-American Heritage Museum. This year my goal was to hit embassies I hadn’t been to, and we prioritized the British, Belgian, Danish, Croatian, and Dutch embassies. We made it to all of them, plus an International Women’s Day festival at the Islamic Center of Washington! Given the amount of time we spent standing in line, this is actually pretty impressive.

In front of the Belgian Embassy

We were quite happy to eat our way through the British and Belgian embassies – bangers and free whiskey at the first, chocolate, beer, and waffles at the second! The Danish embassy had some lovely cheeses as well, but it had the best exhibits of all of them – bikes!

There was an entire wall full of photos of people on bicycles around Copenhagen (not from Copenhagen CycleChic, however), plus some information about how Denmark has become one of the leading green nations. Imagine this – 90% of all waste is recycled or used as fuel in “combined heating and electricity plants.” And 36% of the population of Copenhagen bikes to work!

The Greening of Denmark

The best part, however, was the “Share the (Bike) Love” photo shoot!

Photo Shoot!

It’s a promotion, of course, and a contest, to win a trip to Copenhagen, but I love that I ended up with a Share the Bike Love profile picture for Facebook and Twitter! It’s perfect.

Today, however, there was a bit less bike love going around. The Mechanic and I had signed up for the WABA Bike DC bike event, which was a 24-mile loop through DC and Arlington. Seemed like a good idea, except that it wasn’t…

I had heard that 7,000 people signed up for the event, and I don’t doubt the figures after seeing the crowds. There were the roadies, of course, and I was on Donner in my Bike Arlington jersey, so I too looked like a roadie. But it seemed like there were more recreational bikers out on the route, enjoying the beautiful weather, and having fun.

BikeDC

Here’s where the problem lay – there were so many people on bikes who were not paying attention, wobbling all over the roads, and doing clueless moves, that it made us more stressed to be around them. And there was no where to go! I was trying to be generous – after all, I WANT people to bike more, and this seems like a good way to encourage getting out on bikes. Tons of kids, even a mom and two daughters on a three-person bike (tri-dem?), and I think that is great, get kids riding at a young age. But when we got to the Iwo Jima part and had to get off and walk into a tight bottle neck (thanks to some unscheduled road work that cut off half the road, I heard), I gave up. My patience had worn thin, I wasn’t having fun, and the claustrophobia was setting in. We were happy to turn around and head back the way we saw other riders heading back.

Yep, even dogs were out for the event.

It turns out that by turning back we not only ended up in a bigger, undirected mess, but we also missed the 4 miles up to and around the Air Force Memorial, which would have been nice. We ended up losing the route, and were on surface streets, with a dozen or so other riders, I might add, with cars, directed I don’t know where by a “helpful” DC cop, and found the finish line only by looking up the address on the map. I would have been disappointed if I’d been having more fun, but it was sadly just frustrating. We both were cranky afterwards, especially The Mechanic. An unplanned trip to my new local farmers market and a long nap when we got back helped. But there wasn’t much bike love going around this afternoon! It’s unfortunate, since there was so much love going on yesterday.

This week, however, is Bike to Work Week, culminating in Bike to Work Day, then The Mechanic and I are headed to West Virginia for the CASA River half-century! I’m excited but anxious that I’m not in good enough shape for it. Guess we’ll find out soon enough!

Sharing the Bike Love, Danish Style