The Newness: Biking to and from Class in a New City

When I went to Copenhagen, a super bike friendly city, I wasn’t necessarily expecting to get a bike as a means of transportation. Fast forward to my first week of orientation and our directors were telling us about the opportunity to rent a bike through Swapfiets, a bike company in Europe located in a few cities where you can rent a bike for a monthly rate (student discounts also available). I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get a bike and learn how to ride it in a city that has bikes appearing in your line of sight every second. So I decided to go through with booking one.

Upon arrival at the company, they show you the basics of how to ring the bell and lock the bike. They adjust your seat to your liking and then just like that, you are free to take the bike. It took a minute before I actually got on the bike since there was a quest to finding a helmet by one of my fellow study abroad peeps.

Fast forward about an hour later with our helmets and in addition, a little basket, in tow and we were headed back to our apartments on our bikes. The act of riding a bike in an unfamiliar city, using hand signals we learned from our program, and staying towards the right all created a tense moment i didn’t know was possible when riding a bike. Yet, I made it safely back to my intended destination in one piece. I knew it was going to be a thrilling adventure with riding a bike in Copenhagen, but it was a new experience that I could say I did while living there for a little over a month.

I knew how to ride a bike and I’d ridden a bike plenty of times in the bustling, chaotic streets of D.C. yet they still had other means of transportation that I used more such as cars, metro, and scooters.

Overtime biking to class being fairly easy even if it took me a minute to find the best possible route to class and back. There was always a sense of dread when I wanted to bike back from class, but I knew it would get me back to my destination faster than taking the metro system which I managed to use every so often.

Once I became used to biking the same path into the city I decided to expand my biking knowledge to other parts of Copenhagen. I managed to bike to a food hub called Reffen, museums, and other places of interests.

To be able to say that I actually biked to class in a different country entirely is truly an experience that I’ll remember, because I could have taken other forms of transportation the whole time. Granted, the metro system was my friend as well because it was something I was accustomed to back home, but I at least was able to try something new for a decent monthly price.

Biking had its benefits of getting me from one point to another quicker than expected and provided a form of exercise. When I wasn't peddling my heart out to hurry to class, I was relaxing and taking in the view from the nearby harbors. I’m not sure I ever reached a point of being in shape while biking since I did it every so often and I always managed to be a sweaty, struggling to catch my breath mess in class, but I’d like to believe that it helped me get some form of exercising to make up for my lack of going to the gym or on a run. I managed to avoid falling on my butt the whole time, but there were certainly a few close moments that were waiting for me to make contact with the ground. Sometimes you just have to maintain your composure, avoid crazy drivers, and continue on your way.

As my time in Copenhagen came to an end so to did my bike moments. With currently just arriving in Berlin, I’ve been debating whether or not I want to continue my biking time in the new city. GPS helped me in my former city so I know in the new one it could help just the same in this bike friendly city. People use various forms of transportation here in Berlin, and even though the bike lane, sidewalk and street don’t seem to have a distinguish level between the three people seem to be fairing well regardless.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to find other means of getting around the area and may come to a decision of using the bike renting option that my school program allows for students.

Biking in D.C. is not the same as being in the populated biking city of Copenhagen, yet it has inspired me to want to bike more by the time I get back, so who know if there’s a biking future that awaits me during my next semester.

If you’re in the mood to rent a bike around the area you live in or visiting and need some distraction from the nerves plaguing your mind or if your biking is more stable and takes place in a gym, here’s a playlist to get those legs moving.