The time I cycled into a Danish policeman and knocked him over

On moving to Denmark, one of the first things I had to do on my arrival in Copenhagen was to purchase a bicycle. My then girlfriend found one in a newspaper. A price was agreed and borrowing my girlfriend’s bike, I just had to go and get it.

We were staying on Amager, the bike was on Nørrebro, around a 45 minute journey. I cycled to the seller’s flat and made the transaction.

So with a five mile journey ahead of me, in the dark, in a country/city I have just arrived in, cycling on a different side of the road to that which I am accustomed, on two bikes and with no bike lights, I begin my journey through the heart of Copenhagen. Unaware of the Danish laws, but not a complete idiot, I suspected cycling while holding/pulling another bicycle might be frowned upon.

I’m on Nørrebrogade, a major road cutting through Copenhagen about 5 minutes cycle from Dronning Louise Bro, and I spot half a dozen Policemen at the side of the road.

On spotting me on my two bikes without lights, one of them steps out onto the cycle path, raising his hand in the internationally recognised stop position. The bike I was on had no hand brakes, but a pedal backwards braking system. This was something I had never come across before moving to Denmark. It had been going fine with the pedal backwards braking system up until that point, but I panicked when the Danish policeman stepped out onto the road, and I forgot how to brake.

I cycled straight into the unfortunate guy, and knocked him over. He was in his fifties, a little over weight, with a moustache. As he fell over, his five or six colleagues (much younger and bigger, and fitter) laughed.

I was expecting to get deported.

Just at the point where I was about to find out my fate, there was a buzzing noise from a walkie talkie, lots of talking, and all the Policemen ran off with some urgency. ‘My’ policeman picked himself up to go follow his colleagues, shot me a filthy look, while shouting instructions to me to do something in Danish, while running to catch up with his much fitter colleagues.

Not speaking a word of Danish at the time, I decided what he must have said was ‘carry on, and try not forget how those brakes work in future eh’, and proceeded with my journey.