About a month ago, we wrote a post about how the bikes in Copenhagen compare to bikes in San Francisco. We made the observation that Copenhagen has lots of Dutch style city bikes and quite a few cargo bikes. There are a number of “broke down bikes” too.
Why are there so many of these types of bikes there? Well, we can venture a guess. Dutch bikes are not only practical, but stylish too and Copenhagenites are certainly a fashionable bunch. Also, the city is very flat and easy to ride. The streets are safe for cyclists with some streets posting speed limits as low as 9 mph. That allows for easier usage of cargo bikes and therefore you can find lots of cargo bikes there (move over SUVs) transporting cargo and even small children. As for the “broke down bikes”- I am thinking that there are probably a few different reasons why they still ride such destitute contraptions, but the thing we want to point out is that the way the city accommodates cyclists enables people to safely ride even bikes which are not optimally functional.
You can get a sense of a city’s character and culture from bike watching. In San Francisco, due to the relatively poor cycling infrastructure, the ratio of men riding bikes to women is around 3:1. The men you see on bikes are generally young and fit and able to bravely navigate the rough streets. This also explains why road and hybrid bikes are popular. They allow for optimum performance and speed in a challenging environment with rough terrain. Trendy looking fixed gear bikes are popular with the younger set as well and there are quite a number of vintage road bikes from the 80’s. Occasionally, you’ll spot a folding bike from Dahon or Bike Friday (MUNI only allows folding bikes on their trains, BART doesn’t allow full sized bikes during rush hour) and some Dutch style city bikes such as those from PUBLIC and Linus. At this point in time, e-bikes are not very common, but we predict that for biking to become more widespread in SF, e-bikes will have to become the bike of choice for those people who live on top of SF’s famous steep hills and don’t want to break a sweat.