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Danish Ambassador: In Britain, cycling is only for the few

Says that in Denmark, 'it's like brushing your teeth'...

The Danish Ambassador has said that cycling in Britain is an activity for the few, contrasting the cycling culture with that of Copenhagen, where she says cycling is as natural as brushing one's teeth.

With impressive diplomacy, Anne Hedensted Steffensen, Denmark's ambassador to the UK, said that she 'enjoys' cycling in London, but that she takes care in the traffic.

In a comment that might seem surprising to those who assume bike paths, as common on the continent, are not as quick as hitting the main roads, she says that riding alongside the traffic is 'slow'.

"I enjoy cycling in London because it's often the quickest way to get around, although I am very well aware that I have to be careful in the traffic," she told the Guardian. "It certainly helps me feel safe that the traffic in most parts of London is very slow."

"For many Danes, cycling is a completely normal thing to do on a par with walking or brushing your teeth. In Britain, I sense that cycling is still to some extent seen as an activity for the few."

It's a view that's echoed byTom Godefrooij of the Dutch Cycling Embassy, an advocacy quango that aims to extend the cycling wisdom of the low country to towns and cities as they try to develop a cycling strategy.

He said: "The whole traffic environment is pervaded with the notion that cars come first. Cycling is perceived to be for the brave and adventurous, those who dare. Some streets and roads have occasional facilities, but it is clear that cycling is not considered as a fully fledged mode of transport."

A symposium was held in London late last year exploring how Dutch-style cycling could be brought to the UK (there were also events in Manchester, Bristol, and Edinburgh. And the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has signed up to the Love London Go Dutch campaign run by the London Cycling Campaign, as part of his mayoral pledge.

A detailed description of the three principal Love London, Go Dutch demands can be found on the LCC website, but in brief, they are, in the group's own words:

1 - Implement three flagship Love London, Go Dutch developments on major streets and/or locations

2 - Make sure all planned developments on the main roads that they controls are completed to Go Dutch standards, especially junctions.

3 - Make sure the Cycle Superhighways programme is completed to Love London, Go Dutch standards.

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