Danish culture: bikes all around
As you have probably noticed already, bikes play an important role in Danish culture. Cycling is fast, sometimes faster than the buses, cheap, and keeps your body moving, especially if you spend most of your day stuck to a chair.
What’s there not to like? Wind, snow, ice, rain, a flat tyre, you may say? These "minor" and "insignificant" events won't keep the Danes from riding their bikes.
If you are new to the biking culture and/or to the Danish language, there is a chance that you might have also struggled with one of the following First World Problems. Luckily, we have your back. This post is about putting bikes and the Danish language together, so that you can talk to your bike mechanic, or just use the topic as an icebreaker.
- Wait a minute, how many types of bikes are out there?
- What are the local biking rules?
- How do you explain to your local bike mechanic that you have a flat tyre?
P.S. Bikes also make a really good conversation topic if you want to mingle with the Danes.
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You maybe already know all the different kind of bikes, but can you pronounce their names in Danish? And did you know that most of the really slow bikes on the bike lanes are actually called Christiana bikes and they have originally been desiged in The free town of Christiania back in the '80s?
Racercykel ... Racing bike
Bedstemorcykel ... Grandma bike
Herrecykel ... Man bike
Damecykel ... Lady bike
Fixie-cykel ... Fixie bike
Elcykel ... [Electric bike]
Christiania-cykel ... Carrier bike original from Christiania
Ladcykel ... Carrier bike
Most cyclists play by the rules and can get really irritated when others break them. Following these basic rules guarantees your safety in traffic, and spares you of any angry reactions from fellow cyclists.
Håndtegn til venstre: venstresving ... Hand signal to the left: left-hand turn.
Håndtegn til højre: højresving ... Hand signal to the right: right-hand turn.
Stoptegn: ræk venstre arm i vejret med flad hånd ... Stop signal: lift your left arm up with a flat hand.
Tænd cykellygterne ... Turn on the bike lights when the street lights come on. It's all about safety and avoiding getting a fine from the police.
Henstillen af cykler forbudt ... Bike parking is forbidden. Don't park your bike where it's not allowed. It might get removed.
Bike parts and bike problems
Now that you have gotten a hang of the biking culture here in Denmark, you might want to take it to the next level. Learn the names of the different bike parts and how to explain the most common bike problems to your local bike mechanic.
How to explain bike problems
Min håndbremse er løs ... My lever brake is loose.
Min kæde er løs ... My chain is loose.
Jeg har et punkteret dæk/ Jeg har et fladt dæk ... I have a flat tyre.
Mine gear er gået i stykker ... My gears are broken.
Good to know: bike parts
Jamie from South Korea is a student at Copenhagen Language Center. She shared with us some thoughts about cycling.
"When strangers ask me why I came to Denmark, I say that I came for the clean air and the flat landscape. When friends ask me the same question, I answer that I want to live in a country where my marriage is recognised.
When I ask myself why I came to Denmark, I think that I came here to bike.
I have been cycling alone without adults since I was seven years old. I used to sneak out of the house, to avoid doing homework, and to bike the quiet suburbs in Singapore.
I used to look on Google Maps and fantasise about cycling from Copenhagen to Paris. In South Korea one can’t cycle to other countries. My children will be born in Denmark. Their life will be completely different than mine, but they will cycle for sure."