18 December 2009

Let it Snow in Copenhagen

Not Right Now
During the Climate Conference there were a number of activists using lack of snow as a symbol for climate change issues. Ironically, and irritatingly for some, it started snowing a couple of days ago here in Copenhagen, as the photo of Lulu-Sophia's tricycle attests.
Let it Snow
I had actually been hoping that it would snow simply because in all the countless interviews I've given this past ten days, in temperatures hovering around freezing, everyone was asking how on earth we have gotten people to ride bicycles in 'this weather'.
Snowpenhagen Class
With the snowfall - only about 10 cm in Copenhagen but other regions of Denmark have recieved 35 cm alone today and 50 cm in all - journalists have been out filming and photographing the masses of cyclists squinting into driving snow in temperatures down to -20 with the wind chill. Wearing regular winter clothes, of course, and in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

It really does wonders for selling the very simple idea of urban cycling. You can't pay for this kind of advertising of cycling as a feasible, acceptable and normal form of transport.

So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Not least because we can go sledding tomorrow, me and the kids.
Long John Tobogganing
On the Bullitt, of course.

Here's a slideshow from my Cycling in Winter Flickr set.


WestfieldWanderer said...

It's quite right to leave the so-called "green" aspect out of promoting the bike as one of the best forms of urban transport ever invented, 'cos it just puts people off. British anti-bike Daily Mail reading bigots always delight in branding cyclists as bearded, sandle wearing, lentil eating, yogurt knitting (wtf that is?) weirdos. Which is why Copenhagenize is such a powerful tool in persuading the bicycle-phobes how "normal" cycling is, and should be. Convenient; cheap; versatile; fun.
All power to you Mikael.

Mikael said...

cheers, mate. and to you.

Mikael said...

oh and where on the body does one wear an item of knitted yoghurt? :-)

WestfieldWanderer said...

I had no idea until I googled for it:
Oh well...

townmouse said...

You must be relieved at least that the madness is over and you can get back to some kind of normality...

Enjoy your sledging

tensaimon said...

This week people have been looking at me like I am crazy to be riding a bike around now winter has arrived in Okinawa - it's 17C (positive number, not minus) for god's sake! A bit windy, a bit drizzly, a bit chilly, yet still everybody thinks this is a good reason to get in a car.

(of course, in the summer they complain it's too hot and they need the aircon simply to survive....)

Aah, they look on me as crazy no matter what. This week's reason is 'its too cold'.

Thanks for showing how ridulous they all are.

Oh, and +1 to wesfieldwanderer, agreed that the way forward is to promote cycling not as a 'sacrifice we need to make' but as 'the all-round better choice for happy lives'.

Peter said...

I bike year round here in NJ, USA and some people think it's crazy. Well, I think those same people are a little crazy for driving 100s of miles into the mountains to go skiing in much worst weather than we have in the lowlands.

I wear my ordinary street clothes and have no problem whatsoever. It's nice to get outside everyday in the winter.

I am impressed seeing those shots of people in Copenhagen bicycling on unplowed streets. I have trouble slipping and sliding if I bike in those conditions, even if I take it slow and steady.

Sheffieldcyclechic said...

People who think cycling in winter is crazy have clearly never used public transport or walked any distance in the snow. Try hanging around at a bus stop for 20 minutes in the freezing cold and cycling gets a lot more appealing!

"Cycle Chic" must be slowly filtering into the general population's subconscious - at a meal out on Thursday night for our work xmas party, I lost count of the number of times people asked if I was on my bike, despite the fact I was wearing a long velvet dress and high heeled boots and it was snowing outside. As it was, I'd chickened out, as the met office forecast was for "heavy snow". In the end it turned out to be their usual totally inaccurate forecast and we got 2 cm - that barely counts as light snow!

However, Friday morning was another matter- despite the pathetic snowfall, in the subzero temperatures overnight the snow had frozen solid and there wasn't much evidence of gritting - it was a pretty hairy ride to work, especially as the cycle paths in town were the only areas with any real evidence of snow! I wasn't the only one riding my bike, but I'm sure there would've been a lot more if the council could be bothered to maintain the pitifully small amount of cycle infrastructure we have. It was also noticeable there were a lot less cars on the road than normal too - not gritting anything other than the most major roads does have its benefits ;-)