15 Aug 2014

Why is everyone in Copenhagen so happy?

By Vicky

Recently I went to Copenhagen to complete a course in Applied Service Design Techniques at the Institute of Interactive Design. Everyday I was picking apart and redesigning services, which made me start to notice those that curated my experience of Copenhagen as a city.

The first thing I noticed walking from the central station to my apartment was the amount of bikes left in the street unlocked. Being a cyclist in London, I have constant back pain due to the weight of two heavy locks in my backpack. Unfortunately without both of these my bike or at least bits of it would get stolen. It amazed me that Copenhagen was safe enough to leave a bike so unsecured, why didn’t anyone steal them? It would be fascinating to delve deeper into this apparent trust.

Before I left for my trip, I heard that Copenhagen is one of the cleanest cities in the world, and this is no lie! I didn’t see any litter anywhere, not a single cigarette butt, crisp packet or plastic bag. There is a real sense of collective responsibility to keep it this way. At first I was confused because people kept coming up to me and taking my litter, but then I found out about Copenhagen’s deposit system for plastic and glass bottles and it all started to make sense. Anyone can return empty bottles and cans to any bottle bank in return for money. Not only does this help prevent litter and boosts the environment but it also provides a source of income for homeless people.

The air is really clean which is probably due to cyclists and pedestrians ruling the roads and only a small percentage of people driving. This set up wouldn’t be as pleasant without the incredibly bicycle-friendly infrastructure which ensures the security, safety and comfort of cyclists and is designed dynamically around the actual number of cyclists on the road. An example of this can be seen in curbed and wide cycle lanes, along with separate traffic lights for cyclists.

At BGV we invest in products/services which aim to improve people’s lives… it is important to look at best practice when doing this and it seems that Copenhagen implement services with people at mind, and rather than simply focusing on managing problems in the city, it looks into the future of solving them.