12 February 2010

Copenhagen vs. Amsterdam

The fashion week has brought my friends from Amsterdam, and naturally they have rented bikes for the stay. Both Copenhagen and Amsterdam are famous for being bicycle friendly, but there is a big difference. In Amsterdam the bicyclist is king. The drivers know it, the pedestrians know it, and if they are tourists, they will learn fast. The bikes are allowed to enter the big cross sections along with the cars, on separately marked lanes of course, and it is a happy co existence, once you learn the moves. But adapting (half of) that set of rules to any other city, means trouble. Especially in Copenhagen. Because here, the hierarchy is different.

The self appointed king of Copenhagen is the pedestrian. Especially in the more populated areas. He will move without looking up (likely busy on the cellphone) crossing red lights, expecting traffic to stop. The drivers of Copenhagen unwillingly submits, but show very little patience with both pedestrians and bicyclists. The benefit of that rule is that we all are pedestrians at one point of the day. And if you encounter trouble as a bicyclist in the pedestrian kingdom, you quickly dismount, if just for a minute, and gain the benefits.

However, if you pull your Amsterdam moves here, you get the-horn-and-the-middle-finger. As my friends will testify. But if you are up to speed on the line of succession, Copenhagen really is a peaceful place to ride your bike. Just know your place. And your hand-signs.


  1. Well I did felt like a King on my bike. Untill the horn off the cardrivers, busdrivers, taxi's and so on. Hahaha we dutch people are like pirates on a bike. Still I love to cycle in cph. Next time you have to show me the hand-signs and feel like a King again;-)

  2. It is always good to show them if you are turning left or right, or if you are stopping, but the most important one may be the one the driver already showed you...



I love comments! Go ahead, make my day. :-)