20 January 2011

Noctural Working Class Heroes

Riding home at 3 AM (early night in Copenhagen) on a Saturday I cycled past these two working class heroes. The chap in the foreground has been collecting bottles in the busy city on a Saturday night. Denmark has a 65 year old bottle deposit system where glass bottles are re-used up to 7 times and the deposit is quite high. 20 cents for a beer bottle and up to 75 cents for a 2.5 litre soft drink bottle.

Collecting bottles can be lucrative and on weekend nights - or in parks and on beaches in the summer - you don't need to worry about your bottles. People will come and gather them up for you. It's a great system.

Anyway, this guy is heading home with the night's haul. Working hard. Respect.

Ahead of him is a newspaper carrier heading out to deliver papers to the citizens. Most papers are delivered at four or five in the morning - if I get home at a 'normal' hour after a night out, I can manage to catch the bakeries when they open at about 5 AM and then pick up my newspaper off the doormat before stumbling into my flat.

Bicycles, as ever, are instrumental in keeping this city moving. The Germans confiscated the bicycles in the Netherlands during World War 2. When the German High Command in occupied Denmark proposed to do the same, there was a massive discussion. The Germans used Denmark as a bread basket for feeding their troops. One General wanted the bikes to be made illegal because of the Resistance but another understood that the country would grind to a halt without them. The argument went all the way back to Berlin where it was decided to let the Danes keep their bikes.

Anyway... working class heroes in the Copenhagen night have my deepest respect.


Lim Soo 林蘇 said...

I wrote similar topics recently:
These working class people should be respected.

shuichi said...

Your topics are full of varieties. There are also opened cans' collectors in Japan. We often see them ride bicycle with many cans which they collect. Moreover, I also see a newspaper deliverer ride their bicycle early in the morning every day when I am jogging. Anyway, they always use bicycles.
Thank you for sharing the German's story. Bicycles seemed to be an important everyday infrastructure in the past Europe.

GarryW said...

If only the danish bottle deposit system was here in Sydney Australia, not only for reasons of conserving energy and resources, but also because broken glass on the roads and cycle paths is a big problem for riders.

David said...

From my ignorance here in Barcelona... is it compulsory to have lights on bikes when riding at night in Copenhagen?

Pete from Baltimore said...

I live in Baltimore MD.And a lot of people cant figure out how i can run a ten man construction company without a car or truck

I use a shopping cart to move my tools around townAnd since i cant leave my valuable tools on a jobsite[too many thefts] i ride through Baltimore with my electric saws on my bike rack.

I once had a job 65 miles away. It was a one man job.So i rode my bike 65 miles and stayed at a nearby motel for a week.then i rode back.A wek later i did the same agian for another job in that area.

My point isnt to brag or show off. Im simply trying to say that someone with a bicycle can accomplish a lot.

when the economy crashed , i wasnt stuck with truck payments or gasoline expenses. Sadly , many other guys in the area went out of business

Some customers get nervous when they realise that i onnly have a bike.I ask them if they want me to charge them more for thier jobs.i then ask them who do they think pays for my competitor's trucks? Thier customers , of course.

So my bike riding has actually helped me get business. I have a reputation as someone who will do whatever it takes to get to a jobsite and work

Ive got nothing against cars. But i can manage allright with my 7 year old Raliegh

I just wish that more bikes were sold in america that were built for work use. I use my bike as a pick-up truck. Too many bikes in America are too lightweight. they are only made for sport or casual cruising.

Ive seeen some dutch ones that are heavy duty and perfect for work use.Sadly those imports are very expensive

Kevin Love said...

Mijn fiets terug!

It's even become the chant of the Dutch football fans when they play a German team.

kfg said...

Pete from Mobtown: http://worksmancycles.com/

Nice masheens.

Anonymous said...

@ Davíd. Yes you're are aquired by Danish law to have lights on your bike whilst riding at night. You also have to have reflexes on your tires and at the front and the back of your bike.