Danes and Bicyling: The last refuge of the vicious Viking

In a country where new cars are taxed at 180% and gasoline costs about $6.50 a gallon, bicycles are bound to be popular. The fact that Denmark is relatively flat helps, as does the fact that the climate is relatively temperate.

Make no mistake, though: in the dead of winter, you’ll see Danish commuters pumping their bikes through the snow drifts. In Copenhagen, bike lanes are plowed first, before the area for cars.

Biking is so much a part of Danish life that the government has special programs to teach immigrants from non-Western countries how to bicycle. Apparently it also teaches them good manners in bike lanes; at any rate, immigrants tend to have far better cycling manners than native-born Danes.

For Danes, urban bike lanes are the last refuge of the vicious Viking. The gentle blonde people who smile when you bump them on the train will, once armed with a bike, push you out of the way and occasionally out into traffic, scream abuse at you, and ring their tiny bicycle bells dozens of times if they sense you are holding up their all-important journey to the supermarket.

Danish cyclists are also prone to texting, grooving to invisible music through giant headphones, and intentionally going the wrong direction in the bike lanes if it will make their trip a bit shorter.

The police hold cyclist raids every once in a while and issue dozens, if not hundreds, of DK750 tickets.

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