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Shawn Bisson's Story

Shawn Bisson in Denmark in 2023

When preparing to travel to Denmark I knew I was heading to the bike capital of the world and I was very excited. I’m a bike commuter in Halifax and a bit geeky about urban planning and it’s no secret that Halifax has a long way to go to improve our bike infrastructure.

We started and spent the majority of our trip in the town of Randers which is a 4 hours train ride north from the Capital, Copenhagen. I was amazed to see that even in a small northern town how prominent the biking infrastructure was and the high level of ridership. The majority of the bike lanes that literally go anywhere you need to go are protected bike lanes raised off the street with a curb. No wonder so many people bike here! I quickly realized that because of the high level of bike ridership there were so few cars on the roads which made for a very pleasant community feel. Less pollution and less engine noise. If I had one suggestion for our hosts (who were incredible and took great care of us!) it would be rent all of us bikes for the week and half we were there to get to class and explore the town through their bike network.

Towards the end of our trip we took the train back to Copenhagen to spend a couple of days in big city before heading back to Nova Scotia. This was bike infrastructure on steroids! While at the Danish Architecture Centre I learned that there are 1.5 bikes for every Copenhagener! This was clearly backed up the sheer volume of bikes you saw around the city. In any direction you looked on any outdoor horizontal surface that wasn’t a bike lane, street, sidewalk, or patio was a sea of parked bikes. Amazing!

We had several opportunities to jump on some bikes and explore the city and it was incredible! Since everyone is on bikes there are hardly any cars in the city and it felt incredibly safe and efficient. We were making use of the Donkey Republic bike share program which is all over Denmark and it was awesome. You simply whip open the app on your phone, find a bike available in your area and book it. Simply press unlock and the Café style lock built into the back wheel opens up via Bluetooth. And away you go! Done with your bike? Park it anywhere, lock the back wheel, and that’s it. The simplicity of getting around quickly and not worrying about parking is the reason why I commute by bike but it was clear that we have a long way to go. Perhaps maybe if everyone in Canada just needs to visit Denmark so we can stop this car culture we live in. Easy right?