If you’d ventured to ask me at 15 whether I’d like to go for a cycle, I’d have scoffed in your face and asked “Do I have toooo??” (as I usually did when my parents asked me to join them). But two years after moving to Denmark, and I am the first one behind the handlebars asking “Righto, where to?” Moving to Denmark has had me eating my words, and now I am one of cycling’s biggest advocates. One of the ways, however, that I was able to wrap my head around cycling, was by not calling it ‘cycling’. In my head, the word ‘cyclist’ conjures up scary images of swarms of lycra-clad cyclists speeding along Ocean Rd, or our TV being held hostage with endless hours of Tour de France footage my dad had taped during the month of July. Instead, I like to call it biking. A friendlier, more relaxed version of cycling where things are altogether less sweaty. A bike ride is cycling’s less (hopefully not-at-all) drugged-up cousin, who is all about comfort, class and convenience. If I’d known at 15 that jumping on a two-wheeler didn’t have to mean rock hard seats, a numb butt and the pace pace pace, I might have jumped on the bandwagon sooner. However, it took Danish bikes, with their huge padded seats, colourful bells and flower-covered baskets to get me on board, and I’ve never looked back since! Here are some of the things I most love about biking:
- Now, I’m Australian and I’m gonna go ahead and chalk it up to our somewhat chilled attitude to life, but I am a person who is chronically juuust on time to things – so biking means that I am free to leave that little bit later for uni, if I’m willing to get a slight sheen on my forehead to do so. No annoying bus timetables for me!
- Aarhus is Denmark’s second most populous city with over 300,000 people, so it’s not huge, but it is still technically a city (and nobody can take that away from them!) – but looking at and listening to the streets, you would never imagine that so many people live here. That’s the power of bikes. They are the silent transporters, moving people to and fro without a whisper. Ok, I will admit, my rattly second-hand bike is not a prime example of soundless biking (I really should go get that chain cover fixed ASAP), but the rattle-and-shake of my bike (and many other students’ bikes) is infinitely preferable to the hundreds of honking, tonking and wheezing second-hand cars that would fill this university town’s streets, were biking not a thing.
- Another thing I love about biking is that everyone does it, and as cheesy as it sounds, there is something that is so lovely about being physically close to one another on the commute to uni or work, rather than behind the windows of a car or bus. I think biking humanises a city somehow, bringing life, rather than machines to the streets.
- We’re saving the planet people! This reason almost goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway: Pounding the pedals is a lot more efficient use of everybody’s energy resources, least of all Earth’s, than taking the bus, car, train, and soon to Aarhus, the tram. Our legs are renewable resources, and damn do they look fine after a few months back and forth from Nobelparken and the centre of town.
- In Aarhus, I find that no trip ever takes more than 30 minutes, and most are only 10 minutes. This is possible because of the many cycle paths and shortcuts made for bikes throughout the city, and the fact that many of the traffic intersections prioritise bike traffic over cars!
Honestly there are probably a bucket load more reasons to love biking than the ones I’ve written here, but I hope these five inspire you to get behind the handlebars in Aarhus for the first time – or if you’re a seasoned biker, let me know in the comments what you love about it!
Cheers, Danielle 🙂
I am a 24-year-old from Melbourne, Australia studying a Master’s in International Studies here at Aarhus University. I first fell in love with Denmark as an exchange student in 2013, and – like so many others – couldn’t resist coming back! I moved to Aarhus in 2015, and have loved getting to know the City of Smiles over the past semester. If you want to see some pictures of my life here you can follow me on Instagram @daniellewellings or even better, check out #yourniversity and @AarhusUni for heaps of snapshots of student life at AU.