Get off your high horse, Copenhagen cyclists

In Copenhagen, two-wheeled travellers act like they own the place. Columnist Michael Booth has had enough of the pushy, entitled cyclists.

Get off your high horse, Copenhagen cyclists
According to a 2010 analysis, a cyclist breaks the law every seven seconds in Copenhagen. Photo: Lars Krabbe/Polfoto
Cyclists are under attack. 
Not something you would expect to hear in connection with Copenhagen, the self-proclaimed Cycle Capital of Europe, and arguably the most bike-friendly city in the world, with its 400km of bike lanes, cycle ‘super highways’, and that swish new cycle gyratory thingy in Sydhavn, not to mention those new ‘intelligent’ city bikes just launched at a cost of 50,000 kroner ($9,000) per piece. And at Post Danmark Rundt time, to boot.
They say over a third of people commute by bike in the Danish capital but that's not enough for City Hall: they have to get even more of us on our bikes – 50 percent – if they are going to meet their 2020 CO2 target (will they meet it, won’t they? The tension! Come on, we all know, with politicians involved, come the time they will massage the figures – they’ll leave out the airport's emissions, or Mærsk’s, or something).
This, then, is a city very much geared to two-wheeled transport, to an almost fanatical degree. It is a cyclist's paradise, or so you’d think. But recently there have been grumblings both from, and about, Copenhagen’s cyclists and my sense is the grumblings are eventually going to grow into a crescendo. 
In January new fines were introduced for cyclists who violate traffic laws – 1,000 kroner for crossing a red light; 700 kroner for riding on the pavement. Then there was the recent ‘scandal’ of the company that was removing bikes illegally parked on private property and charging owners the grand sum of 187 kroner to get them back. The cyclists really didn’t like that. “Extortion! Theft!” they cried.
Then it was the bus passengers’ turn: they had had enough of being mown down by cyclists when trying to disembark from their bus. Cyclists are supposed to stop to allow passengers to cross the cycle path to reach the pavement, but few bothering to wait, with calamitous results for both parties.
The other day Politiken’s website posted a film with a plea from a local blind man to the city’s cyclists. We saw the man come perilously close to being run over by cyclists who, once again, considered their journey too important to slow down for a man with a white stick.
Tensions are simmering and I am afraid the finger of blame points very clearly at the cyclists, or at least some of them.
A Dutch friend visiting recently was quite aghast at the aggressive attitude of Danish cyclists. They were way pushier, cycled notably faster, and were more irascible than those in Amsterdam, she said. “They need to take a chill pill.”
An incident I witnessed on a packed intercity train the other day sums up what I can’t help feeling is a kind of growing extremism at work in Danish cycling culture. A female cyclist demanded that three passengers – including a mother and her small daughter – leave their seats along the wall of the carriage, as they were multi-purpose seats – i.e. for bikes and/or passengers. To my astonishment, they dutifully did so, the seat bottoms automatically flipping up obligingly. The cyclist then parked her bike and sat down on the one remaining seat. She did this with no acknowledgement whatsoever of the other passengers’ sacrifice and in a manner which, in its display of entitlement and moral superiority, evoked some kind of absolute monarch ascending her throne.
I think this moral superiority, this arrogant sense of entitlement to all of the city’s public spaces on the part of Copenhagen’s cyclists, might lie at the heart of the problem.
The thing is, I don’t believe that the majority of people who choose two wheels over four do so for purely altruistic reasons. They aren’t doing it to reduce CO2 emissions, or help the traffic flow, they are cycling because it is cheap and quick, and perhaps it helps them keep fit.
If they could afford a car, and if it was convenient to drive (i.e. the traffic wasn’t too bad and there was parking), many – most? – would probably do so.
So let’s cut the moral highground crap, shall we?
Some more tips for Copenhagen’s cyclists: how about you don’t jump red lights or ride on the pavement? Then you won’t get fined. How about you stop to let bus passengers and blind people cross your cycle highways? Then there won’t be any accidents. How about you park legally, or somewhere that doesn’t block a pavement being used by people pushing prams or the elderly, or the entrance to people’s homes? Then you won’t get your bike taken away.
You’re welcome!
Michael BoothMichael Booth is the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People: The Truth About the Nordic Miracle available now on Amazon and is a regular contributor to publications including the Guardian and Monocle.

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What are the rules on taking your bike on the train in France?

The French government is keen to encourage cycling and has published a decree relating to bike commuting, but travelling on a train with a bike can still be quite complicated.

What are the rules on taking your bike on the train in France?
Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Can I commute with my bike? 

The French government is keen to encourage ‘multimode’ commuting – or people who cycle part of the way to work and take the train or bus for the rest.

On June 10th 2021, it published a decree which makes it mandatory for SNCF train stations and Paris’ RATP stations which have high numbers of passengers to provide secured parking spaces for bikes by 2024. This obligation concerns 1,133 train stations, which represent 37 percent of all train stations in France. 

How can I carry my bike on the train?

When it comes to taking a bike on longer train journeys, the rules vary depending on the type of train you are using. 

You can bring your bike, without having to disassemble it, on every TER (regional train) for free and without having to make a reservation, but keep in mind that space is limited. Since March 2021, every new trains or trains that are being renovated must have at least 8 spaces for bikes on board. 

Some TGVs (high-speed trains) and most Intercités (non high-speed national trains) offer a possibility to take your bike aboard, and in those where you can, you must make a reservation online or at the train station when you buy your ticket. 

THIS MAP allows you to check all the main long distance train lines that allow bikes on board.

When to take the train with your bike? 

In TERs, spaces for bikes are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be booked, therefore it’s better not to travel during rush hours. 

You’ll find special information about when and how to travel with your bike on TGVs and Intercités on the SNCF website. 

How to reserve a spot for your bike?

For TERs, making a reservation is not possible. 

For TGVs and Intercités, if you want to travel with an assembled bike, you must make a reservation for a dedicated spot when you buy your ticket on the website . The price to add a bike on a TGV starts from 10€ and from 5€ on an Intercités. Adding a bike after you bought your ticket is not possible. 

Also, it’s important to note that you won’t be able to reserve a space for your bike when you  make a reservation from your phone on the app You can add a bike from your phone with the app Trainline

How to carry a disassembled bike?

You can carry your bike in every SNCF trains as long as it is disassembled in a bag which dimensions doesn’t exceed 90x120cm. In this case, it is considered hand luggage. 

Are trailers, tandems and cargo bikes allowed? 

Only regular bikes are accepted on trains. Carrying recumbent bikes, tricycles, tandems or trailers is not allowed. Only one train makes an exception during summer: the train Loire à Vélo, a train that goes from Nevers in the Center of France to the Atlantic Coast

Special info and tips if you want to travel by train with your bike this summer 

On the line Bretagne / TER : From June 7th to September 30th 2021, making a reservation for your bike to travel on a TER in the Bretagne région is mandatory. You will have to pay 3€ per bike and you can only reserve a ticket that includes a bike on the website

Travelling with the Train Loire à Vélo : This train that goes from the city of Orléans to Le Croisic on the Atlantic Coast is back on track. The ride is free and you don’t have to make a reservation for your bike. 

The Nouvelle-Aquitaine / La Vélodyssée service : In the Nouvelle Aquitaine region which includes Bordeaux and Biarritz, a special TER service with bikes allowed will be working from mid-July to August 2021. It will be free and without reservation, you can find some info on this map

On the line ViaRhôna / TER Lyon – Avignon : From July 3rd to September 19th, it will be possible to travel between the cities of Lyon and Avignon by train with your bike but only during week-ends and bank holidays. You must make a reservation and the price per bike will be of 3€.

La Véloscénie :  is a special itinerary for people who want to cycle between Paris and the Mont Saint-Michel and visit different places along the journey. From May to September the line from Paris to Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel embarks your bikes for free.