I recently came across some old pictures of Mormor as a girl back in the day growing up in Denmark. In one she is a picture of the quintessential ‘Danish girl’, with bike and all. I love to see those old pictures of her and to hear stories of her adventures cykeling i København (bicycling in Copenhagen) with friends. Who doesn’t remember doing those types of things?
Although her home country didn’t become known as a cycling nation until well after she had moved to the US, it is so interesting to hear all about how wheeling (as it was known back before the turn of the 20th century) was such an important part of her life. Likewise, in exploring both the Danish and American biking cultures, it is really incredible to learn what an amazing and revolutionary invention the dandy horse, velocipede and penny-farthing was back before the automobile became an affordable mode of transportation.
The history of cycling in Denmark is quite fascinating, and the resolve of the cycling culture there can be attributed to the Dane’s commitment to preserve their beautiful country, assure the safety of their people, and to address environmental issues. Because of a huge pledge from the Danish people in the 1960s, today Denmark is known as the epitome of bike-friendly cities, and it has the title to prove it. Not to mention, Denmark has some pretty remarkable bike stats and the new Cykelslangen cycle bridge that opened last year.
America has also seen many a bike craze over the past 150 years, with one of the biggest occurring around the 1890s with the invention of bikes made with chain-driven transmission, an invention that revolutionized the comfort of cycling.
Today cycling is again gaining speed. The number of people who bike to work in America has increased by 60% in the past decade as cities all over the country adopt a more health-conscious and bike-friendly approach by establishing bike lanes, bike-sharing programs, and bike-to-work incentives.
These days it seems that Mormor has just as much vigor and spunk as she ever did! Although she has retired the bike, she continues to be very active in many other areas at The Danish Home of Chicago, and I know that she approves of this two-wheeled revival-of-sorts!
The weather is supposed to be pleasant today in Chicago (and who knows how long that will last!) so get your cykel and do some two-wheeled exploring today, or just check out Le Tour de France going on now!