Impressions of Europe - Copenhagen - pt.1

Impressions of Europe - Copenhagen - pt.1

If you're looking at stats on the worlds happiest cities in terms of pollution, healthcare, etc., including a number of metrics that skew towards massive central control, and at or near the top you'll find Copenhagen, in Denmark. While not all of Denmark is on islands, a lot of it, including Copenhagen itself, is, and the city is within easy view and shot of Sweden, with a bridge connecting the two. The bridge is the one which kicks off a scandinavian series of that name, later redone as a British/French series called "The Tunnel" - which I may discuss in another post.

The island occupies a strategic choke point between the Baltic and North seas, which in part explains why so many wars were fought with Sweden.

First impression, extremely high-trust society. Even in Germany they will more likely than not check your train tickets, where here it appears you are assumed to have purchased one or why would you be on the train? A more relevant example though is when you step out of the central station in old/central Copenhagen and see rack after rack of bikes left there by people who've transferred to a train, and while some are locked, many, perhaps half in a quick count, are not - and I'm not talking the brightly colored rental bikes, but personal ones.

The train was clean - even compared to the German ones, especially compared to the equivalent S-line cars I was on in Germany - but interestingly, the graffiti visible within the rail-track path was depressingly similar to DC.

Further examples - someone stepping into the hotel's restaurant for their included breakfast simply left their rollaway luggage against a nearby wall in the main lobby. No, no-one bothered it. At the same breakfast, various loaves of bread were left out partially wrapped in napkins - it was assumed that you were competent and hygenic enough to put the bread on the cutting board, cut one or more slices of the desired type of bread, and put the loaf back, without spreading disease to anyone.

After that, I set out to tour the city. How else?

By bike.

The city makes an absolute fetish out of combatting cars and setting things up for bikers and pedestrians. Not only do they have the slightly wider streets with "bike lanes" helpfully painted in everywhere, but a number of the streets are relatively wider with a dedicated 5 foot or so raised lane that is for bikes only. No cars, no pedestrians. Sure, the health benefits are likely great, and they apparently enjoy it, but I'm not sure how much it truly reflects choice given the punishing gas prices in europe, and more to the point, the punitive taxes on cars in Copenhagen. There's an argument that they voted for it, of course.

As a note, the guy renting the bikes pointed out to be especially watchful for bikers more so than cars - you won't hear the bikes coming.

Other than the aforementioned low percentage of locked bikes, as well as the profusion of three wheeled bikes with storage bins suitable for large dogs or a couple small bins - the bins and double wheels were usually to the front - the most disconcerting thing was how fast most of the bike traffic was on busier streets.

All in all a pleasant day, more on the city and what I observed later.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.