"Where are you from? How long have you been in Denmark? Do you live here?" he asked, once we'd pulled over. We were smiling and almost laughing at him - it didn't seem like we could be in any trouble. Our passports are in fine order, we hadn't broken any laws. Turns out, he wasn't worried about our immigration status, and we were doing something illegal.
"I can take you to the bank right now," he said. "Seven hundred kroner fine for you" - sticking his finger in my chest - "seven hundred kroner for you" - pointing at Rebecca. "Payment immediate, or I arrest you." He put his hands together, miming handcuffs. Uh… what?
It turns out that bike lights are required at night in Denmark. It's a national law. As soon as the streetlights are illuminated, every cyclist needs a white light in the front and a red light in the back - this being one of the most bicycle friendly places on earth, riding un-lit is a bit like driving a car without working brake lights. The policeman very sanctimoniously let us go - walking our bikes - because we were foreigners. "Buy lights at a seven-eleven," he grunted.
This reliable bike is a postal trike, for delivering the mail.
One reason why is that there are so, so many bicycles parked out on the street. Huge masses of them - like shoals of shining fish - congregate around train stations and supermarkets. In crowds like that, the nicest bikes are usually the only ones fastened to something sturdy. Most - like our rentals - just had a locking bar that clicked through the spokes and prevented the bikes from being ridden away. We didn't worry too much. Someone might have picked up our rickety old things for scrap, but that would have been a lot of work.
An initiative (curiously) named "karma" has also been started, to reward cyclists for following the rules of the road. Supposedly, volunteers on the street hand out chocolates to riders who obey traffic lights and use the proper signals. I'm not sure why this is really necessary. Barely anyone breaks the law.
Copenhagen has one-upped the other cities though, with free "borrow" bikes. A twenty kroner coin is all it takes to unlock your ride. You get the money back when you re-chain the lock - much like the deposit mechanisms on supermarket carts or airport baggage dollies. They're not the greatest vehicles - heavily built, with airless, hard tires and balky gears - but they're dependable. They also come with handy maps mounted to the handlebars. We didn't use them - they're not always easy to find - but did see plenty of them around town.