Cycling leads to a happier life, says a journalist after a year in Copenhagen - Do práce na kole

Cycling leads to a happier life, says a journalist after a year in Copenhagen

Cycling leads to a happier life, says a journalist after a year in Copenhagen
19. 4. 2022

Journalist Jirka Pasz spent most of last year in Copenhagen. And, of course, rode many bicycles there. He shared his experiences (not only) regarding cycling on social media, and was inspired by locals, did not stop because of the weather or the season. Later, he transformed his experience in Denmark into a series of audio documentaries, Danish Happiness, which aired on Czech Radio Plus. According to Jirka´s experience, how are cyclist infrastructure and happiness related? Guess and then read our interview.

You probably went to Denmark with a conscience about the local cyclo culture. Did anything surprise you?

I studied in The Netherlands, and this experience influenced me a lot. I also rode a lot in Cambodia and Vietnam. When I was in Olomouc too. In fact, I compared Copenhagen with the Dutch situation. What surprised me the most was Copenhagen’s matchless use of public space. It has a big cyclist infrastructure, but also high-quality public space. In Denmark, people are encouraged to be outside and in a pleasant environment. I was also surprised by the number of people that ride racing bikes in Denmark, especially during the weekends.

The idea of making a documentary about happiness originated in Copenhagen?

No. Happiness is a question that everyone in the world is looking for an answer for. Nevertheless, in my numerous trips I noticed that, for example, infrastructure in Asian countries is a terrible example regarding general satisfaction. I do not believe we should follow that path. Any culture that begins to think about a car as the main means of transport is embarking to hell. Denmark masters many scopes on social development, and during my stay I wanted to know if the Danish had discovered how to live happier lives on an individual and social level. If their satisfaction could be also secured and guaranteed by the state.

And?

The biggest surprise for me was that the Danish reflect that cycling brings them happiness. Or more so, satisfaction. This, I believe, is quite important news for everyone who creates and uses the infrastructure. Cycling drives happiness. And this is confirmed by the Czechs living there as well. Even if you do not use the bike for every trip, the possibility is important. In my opinion, almost nobody in Denmark would question the importance of having good connections by train or bus, to choose between a car or a good cycling infrastructure.

Nothing, not even the weather, can stop Copenhageners from cycling

I guess you also rode a bike…

Almost exclusively, in any season and any climate. Even if you go outside of Copenhagen and the bike lanes disappear, you still feel safe on the road. Cyclists have a priority, and drivers behave less aggressively and are considerate. That is also part of Danish nature. Drivers are not as stressed and do not have as much hurry.

Does mutual respect reflect on the transport?

Usually, I say that happiness is kind of like a virus, which is especially evident in these times. When you come to the Czech Republic from Denmark, you find rude and unpleasant people; when you go shopping, to the doctor, or for a walk. Danish people are nicer to each other. Society is built that way, and that environment is contagious. We are more frustrated and unsatisfied, so we project those emotions. A bad mood is like a disease.

Do you ride a bike in Prague?

I brought a beautiful bamboo bicycle from Vietnam, that I rode in different countries through the years. I tried Prague as well, but unfortunately, I am scared here. Mainly because of the lack of infrastructure. I am not an expert, but I believe that if you do not separate bicycles from cars, it is problematic for everyone. The bike lane on the road seems dangerous to me after my stay in Copenhagen and Utrecht. Maybe I would have less fear if I knew drivers would take me into account. I simply do not feel that way here. I mainly walk around Prague and use public transport.

Parking for bikes

And don´t you miss your bike?

Terribly. In Copenhagen, thanks to cycling, I crossed the line of discomfort once again. Mothers with little children also ride bikes during winter there. Here, there are the terrible grown-up heroes while they sit in their heated car. It is a huge paradox.

Do you think there is something we can do about it?

Experience confirms that if you give some space for transport, people will begin to use it. That is just a fact. It was not evident in any of the cycling powers of today. I believe that the Czech Republic has a huge potential for bicycle transport. We must look for paths instead of obstacles. Hills are often mentioned in Prague. It is like the Swiss thought, we have hills here, so we cannot have trains. End of the story. Building railways in Switzerland cost a lot of money and effort, but today they have the best trains in the world. The Czechs can be creative and progressive, but it seems we cannot agree on the fact that we want to be happier and less stressed out. Simply, happier.

Join the thousands of enthusiasts from all over the country that move actively during the month of May as part of the Bike to Work campaign. You may notice, like the majority of them, that it is not only healthy but also faster and nicer. When taking part in the call, that AutoMat association has been organizing for 12 years, you also help bring attention to the need for quality infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists in your city.

Critical Mass Ride Around The World

Critical Mass Ride Around The World

Although bike demonstrations had been happening in various countries for years, the first Critical Mass Ride ever was organized on the last September Friday of 1992, in San Francisco. As…
Operational manager of Bio Oko: Bike is the fastest means of transport for me

Operational manager of Bio Oko: Bike is the fastest means of transport for me

Prague’s cinema Bio Oko has been a partner of the Take Back Your Street neighborhood festival for a while now. Last year, due to its operational manager, Hedvika Maternová, cinema…
Do you bike to work? Enjoy the promotions and discounts from our partners

Do you bike to work? Enjoy the promotions and discounts from our partners

Already on the first day of the 12th year of the Bike to Work Challenge, a record number of enthusiasts traveled (not only) to work sustainably, who decided to travel…