Architecture is a field that I admire on a relatively naïve level. I can appreciate something beautiful, functional, impressive, smart, etc., but from a more professional angle, I don't know much about architecture, which makes it a perfect trip. My interest is sincere, my intentions are real, and my legs are made for pedaling.
I make an appointment with BeCopenhagen, who are specialists in Copenhagen’s architecture. They describe themselves as driven by a personal passion for Copenhagen, its architecture, liveability (which I'm not sure we have a good word for in Danish), and, of course, bicycles, which take up an enormous amount of Copenhagen's urban space.
Hop on your bikes and go
I arrive at 9.15 am in Fortunstræde in the city center, as agreed. We need to get bikes, tank up with water, and get a few other practical things sorted. Alice, our guide for the day, welcomes us, making sure the saddles are set at the right height, etc.
Today, there are four of us going on the trip. Sunanda, a woman from Singapore, Tony from Ohio, myself from Copenhagen V, and our photographer, Rikke.
We briefly outline some basic cycling rules. Signal right and left when turning. The arm is raised at a stop. As a local, I become very conscious of setting a good example, and I make my signals clear from the get-go. I want to help create a sense of safety on the bike; I don't know how much biking actually goes on in Singapore and Ohio.
After only 10 minutes, I learned something new. One of the reasons, Alice explains, that Copenhagen works so well as a cycling city is that the city was more or less burnt to the ground in both 1725 and 1795. After that, the city was rebuilt with wider streets, which later made it possible to build cycle paths. The other side of the coin, of course, is that we don't have many traces left of the Middle Ages in the city. It's just a fact we have to live with.
Out to the harbor
We're at the Black Diamond, and it's obvious that Alice has so many insights to share with us. BeCopenhagen's own narrative of being driven by passion is not just a sales pitch. It's coming across clearly that there is both deep knowledge and enthusiasm to grasp here. And probably also more in-depth knowledge to be found than we get. If, as a group, we had been architects and urban planners, the professionalism-control would probably have received a considerable crank-up.