US leaders to Copenhagen for bicycling inspiration

The US Secretary of Transportation will visit Copenhagen on April 18th to gather insight on how Denmark has created a successful bicycle culture.

US leaders to Copenhagen for bicycling inspiration
Secretary Foxx will visit Copenhagen to gather insights. Photo: Heb

If Anthony Foxx is serious about making the United States more bicycle-friendly, he couldn't have chosen a better place to visit.

The US secretary of transportation will be in Copenhagen on Monday to take inspiration from the best cycling city in the world.

Foxx’s schedule for the trip will include a bike ride through the capital alongside Danish Transport Minister Hans Christian Schmidt.

“I am looking forward to welcoming my American colleague, Secretary Foxx, and for us to tour Copenhagen on bike, showing how we develop infrastructure such as 'Cykelslangen' to promote cycling, and how such infrastructure projects function as drivers of urban development and renewal,” Schmidt said, referring to the bridge connecting Dybbølsbro and Bryggebroen, which has been the subject of international praise due to its innovative design and rider-friendly opportunities.

Cykelslangen is a designated bicycle bridge with a unique architectural design. Photo: Leif Jørgensen/Wikimedia

Cykelslangen is a designated bicycle bridge with a unique architectural design. Photo: Leif Jørgensen/Wikimedia.

The bridge is just one of several projects Copenhagen has completed in recent years to further improve its bicycling infrastructure. Other additions include Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s futuristic-looking Cirkelbroen (the Circle Bridge) and bicycle 'superhighways' running to the suburbs. 

Future upgrades will include a bicycle and pedestrian companion to the congested Langebro and the seemingly-perpetually delayed Inderhavnsbroen, which suffered additional setbacks after it looked like it was finally completed last summer. That bridge, which will connect Nyhavn and Christianshavn, was supposed to be done in 2013 but is now set to open at an undisclosed point later this year.

Joining Foxx on the trip to Denmark will be the mayors of three large US cities – Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon and South Bend, Indiana – as well as the US Ambassador to Denmark, Rufus Gifford, and the CEO of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation, Klaus Bondam.

Apart from gathering insight on local bicycle strategy, the trip will also include discussions on further collaboration on transport policy between the two countries.

“A fruitful, constructive cooperation between Denmark and the US is important in all policy areas, including transport,” Schmidt said. 

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‘The Vikings also wore helmets’: Danes draw on marauding past for cycle safety ad

The Danish Road Safety Council has put the Scandinavian country's Viking past to a hilarious new use: convincing macho Danish men to wear cycle helmets.

'The Vikings also wore helmets': Danes draw on marauding past for cycle safety ad
Svend the Viking does not want to ruin his braids. Photo: &Co

The council’s new advert, “Helmet has always been a good idea”, brings together two somewhat incongruous aspects of Danish life — the country’s love of cycling and its Viking past, using humour to show up some of the silly reasons people give themselves not to wear cycle helmets. 

The advert starts with the imposing Viking chief Svend rousing his men for their next invasion of England. To rhythmic chanting and the blowing of horns, he mounts his steed, brandishing his thick and heavy sword. 

Then, suddenly, his young son comes running bearing his helmet. Svend ignores him, and utters a cry: “To the ships!”. 

After a pause, one of his men nervously asks: “shouldn’t you have a helmet on, Svend?”. 

“No, it’s annoying and it makes my scalp itch,” Svend responds sheepishly. 

“I’m a careful rider,” he adds, slightly desperately.

“What do I do when I get there? Run around in a silly helmet?” he adds. 

Then he roars, “It ruins my braids!” 

It’s only when his wife comes out that he finally dons his gleaming headpiece and with the cheers of his fellow marauders all around him makes his way to the longships. 

Then the slogan — “A helmet has been a good idea for all time” — appears on the screen in rune-like writing.