A former US ambassador to Denmark, of all people, was ridiculed for suggesting that Danish people cycle and take the train because they "can't afford to drive a car." Referring to recent rises in gas prices in the US under the current president Joe Biden, Carla Sands asked her social media followers if they wanted what the Danes have for themselves... to which the overwhelming answer seemed to be "yes".
You might be familiar with the tired old trope that people only cycle because they can't afford a car; however you'd probably expect better from someone who supposedly immersed themselves in Danish culture during their tenure as an ambassador to the country, whose capital city Copenhagen is regularly voted the best in the world to cycle with bikes actually outnumbering cars for the first time in the city back in 2016.
Couple this information with Denmark's high GDP and standard of living, and it starts to become apparent that maybe there are other reasons for the choice of many Danes to cycle rather than drive.
Sands served as Danish ambassador under the Trump administration and lived in the country for a number of years, clearly demonstrating with her Twitter post that the actual reasons the Danes might choose to bike passed her by.
That sounds like a much healthier society, don't you think?
— Rich Johnston (@richjohnston) June 11, 2022
Sands claimed that while serving as US ambassador between 2017-2021, her embassy driver "would bike an hour in the snow to get to work."
"That’s the future team Biden wants for Americans. Is this what you want?", she added.
Benny Englebrecht, a former Danish transport minister, replied: “As former minister of transport I can assure you that using the bike for urban mobility is a question of choice, not economy for most Danes", while current Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke accused Sands of "spreading disinformation".
Some posted pictures of royalty and other wealthy Europeans riding bikes to rubbish the claim that Danes cycle because they can't afford a car.
While no one appeared to be in agreement with Sands for the economic reasons Danes might cycle rather than drive, some were a bit more hesitant about the US being able to embrace active travel to the extent some parts of Denmark have, with one saying: "It would work in some areas, and not in others. There are whole states where you really need a car to get around, and few American cities have the infrastructure to support bikes, let alone a way to secure them."
Sands' comments come as gas prices reached $5 (around £4.03) a gallon for the first time in the US, prompting some people in a mostly car-dependant nation to say that they will now be looking at "cancelling travel" and considering alternative methods of transport, according to the CNN report Sands was commenting on.
Those prices, while being the highest ever seen in the US, are still significantly lower than prices at the pumps in the UK, with a US gallon (around 3.8 litres) currently costing an average of £6.93 according to Sky News.
President Biden has accused oil companies, specifically Exxon Mobil, of stunting production to drive up demand and increase profits. Exxon objected to this, with a spokesperson telling CNBC: “We have been in regular contact with the administration, informing them of our planned investments to increase production and expand refining capacity in the United States."
Going back to Ms Sands, perhaps she will be more enthused by the sight of the Tour de France departe that is taking place in Copenhagen, starting on 1st July; as if there's one place you can always guarantee to find a comforting quantity of motor vehicles, it's at the back of a World Tour peloton. If it was up to Copenhageners themselves, this might not be the case...
Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.