From Cycleliciousness, the Copenhagen Bike Culture Blog:
19 NOVEMBER 2007
Debunking the Flat Country/Bike Country myth
[Nicked and revised freely from the EU paper – "Cycling – a way
forward for cities and towns"... hey, our tax money paid for it...]
We often hear here at Cycliciousness that the reason that Denmark and
the Netherlands in general and Copenhagen and Amsterdam in particular
have such an advanced bike culture is because the two countries are
We're not trying to debunk the myth that the countries are flat. They
are. It's true. On a global scale, these two cities get all the press
about having bike culture. It's massive in these two capitals.
We felt the need to debunk the myth that it is ONLY these two cities
that ride like the wind.
Let's face it. Bike are used regularly almost everywhere in Europe.
Mostly in Northern Europe, since in southern Europe the bike is often
regarded as a child's plaything or a piece of sports equipment.
So let's look at the oft overlooked cities and towns in Europe that
enjoy a high level [compared to other regions] of bike usage.
In Parma, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, 19% of all journeys
are made by bike. By comparison, the city of Davis, in California,
has a figure of 17%, one of the highest in the US.
And then there is Ferrera, Italy, about 50 km from Bologna. Here 31%
of trips between home and work are biked.
Then there is the fine town of Västerås in central Sweden. Icy cold
during the winters but still, 33% of journeys are by bike.
It rains quite often in Cambridge, UK. This doesn't discourage the
inhabitants from making 27% of all journeys on two manpowered wheels.
To the hills!
If we're debunking flat myths, we simply must take a trip to
Switzerland. The city of Basel is built on the steep banks of the
Rhine and yet 23% of journies are made by bike.
And in Bern, where many roads have a gradient on the steep-o-meter of
7%, the percentage is 15%.
In reality, there are not many situations which preclude the use of a
bicycle. The only climatic features which have a really dissuasive
influence on cyclists are pouring rain or blistering heat.
Appropriate clothing and a suitable infrastructure on arrival greatly
reduce the negative impact of atmospheric conditions which are far
less compatible with daily cycling than is imagined.
Hills are a not insignificant obstacles for somewhat untrained
cyclists using old and unsuitable bicycles in towns where slopes with
a more than 5 % gradient are long and numerous.
Even under such circumstances, there is a potential for cycling, as
can be seen from the following hilly towns: Trondheim (Norway) has
reached a cycling rate of 8 % and has equipped itself with the first
bicycle lifts in the world.
As for the flat countries like the Netherlands and Denmark... people
never mention the wind. Try riding to work in a storm, with hurricane
strength gusts in the middle of a dark January morning. The North Sea
loves our flat countries and does everything it can to blow us off
our bikes. In vain, we'd like to add.
Towns on the move towards a cycling future:
Bilbao and Biscay
Wallonia region of Belgium
WHEELED INTO CYBERSPACE ON A TAILWIND BY ZAKKALICIOUSNESS AT 14:05
Here are some other links of interest. When you are on the
Cycleliciousness page, click on the header main link (picture at the
top of the page) to see more stories:
15 JANUARY 2008
Bike Racks - The Next Generation
05 JANUARY 2008
The Trade Cycle - Coffee to Go that Goes to You
19 DECEMBER 2007
Test of Five Cargo Bikes
11 DECEMBER 2007
Traffic Kills 10 Times More People Than Traffic Accidents
22 DECEMBER 2007
Cycling Nurses Help Thwart Hospitalisation
(See also "Bicycle paramedics in London" in my general "Compendium of
25 NOVEMBER 2007
18 Ways To Know That You Have Bicycle Culture
(The way things could and should be in more places, written with a
24 NOVEMBER 2007
Cyclists Are Better Shoppers Than Motorists
17 NOVEMBER 2007
Elderly Alternatives to Cycling in Copenhagen
05 NOVEMBER 2007
Copenhagen - City of Cyclists - Part 1 of 5
Montreal QC Canada
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