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Cycling in Copenhagen
a city on wheels
Part of our Low Carbon Copenhagen project ... project index >
introduction  •  how + why cycling started  •  cycling culture  •  City Bikes
transport integration  •  sources
key facts  •  urban planning timeline  •  pedestrianisation timeline  •  Denmark timeline
Transport integration
Cycling is a significant element in Copenhagen's increasingly integrated transport system. Not only is cycling promoted at government level but steps have been taken to improve the way the city's other transport systems deal with the needs of cyclists. Just like pedestrianisation, cycling is part of Copenhagen's 1993 new Municipal Plan that sets an overall strategy for land use and transport.
The city's transport network combines roads, railways, the Metro, buses and pedestrianised areas with cycle tracks, cycle lanes, the City Bike scheme and regional and local cycle routes. The major public systems are described in more detail and mapped on the pedetrianisation transport integration page.
Cyclists can take a bike on most trains (except when it's very busy) and the bike usually needs a ticket of its own. The Metro carries bikes in off-peak hours. However, bikes are not carried by buses, except for the harbour bus. Cyclists can only wheel their bikes through pedestrianised zones.
Cycling in Copenhagen
The number of people using bicycles for transport in and out of the city centre increased by two thirds between 1970 and 1995, and the upwards trend is continuing. Over the same period, the length of cycle tracks increased from 220km to 293km. More cyclists means more bikes, so bike parking places have increased too — from 29,500 in 2006 to 34,800 in 2008.
Cycle tracks, lanes + routes
Copenhagen has both cycle tracks and cycle lanes. The tracks are tarmacked and run along roads but are separated from vehicles by a divider of kerbstones. The standard track width is 2.2m, which makes overtaking possible as well as conversation. Copenhagen has introduced a new width of 2.5-2.8m, allowing cyclists to ride three abreast. Experience has shown that the wider the track, the more people like to use it.
Cycle lanes, on the other hand, are sections of road divided off by a painted white line. In 2010, there were 340km of cycle tracks in the city and around 20km of cycle lanes. 70km of new cycle track are planned for completion by 2026.
To minimise accidents when bicycles and cars share the road, cyclists need to be visible. In Copenhagen, 117 road intersections have been modified so that cyclists stop 5m ahead of vehicles and are given priority to move into the junction. At some intersections cyclists get a green light 4-12 seconds before motorists do. Although cycling speeds have been increasing, the number of serious accidents is falling.
Copenhagen is also served by the network of national and regional cycle routes. According to www.cycling-embassy.dk, since 1993 more than 4,000km of national cycle routes have been set up in Denmark. Regional routes cover 5,874km and local routes 2,298km.
Green waves
Several major road arteries in Copenhagen have their traffic light synchronisation changed in rush hours to favour cyclists travelling at an average of 20kph. This enables cyclists to travel quite a distance without having to stop. The technique has been named Green Waves. An example is the Nørrebrogade route, which 30,000 cyclists use every day. With the synchronisation in place it takes 7.5mins to travel 2.5km along it.
Cycling in Copenhagen
Green cycle routes
Copenhagen has recently started a Green Cycle Route scheme, dubbing the routes cycle motorways. In 2008 there were 41km of Green Routes in the city and the plan is to increase this to a continuous 22 routes totalling 110km by around 2015. The new broad paths are separate from the rest of the transport infrastructure, so users get little contact with vehicular traffic. Many run through parks or along waterfront areas. Joggers and inline skaters use the routes too.
back to introduction >
Top links
Copenhagen is the City of Cyclists   www.kk.dk/cityofcyclists.aspx
City of Copenhagen's cycling information site
YouTube   www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5Y2YD3ow0o
Copenhagen's cycling infrastructure visual overview
YouTube   www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYajXN4pPHI
Fixed camera on a bike lane in a Copenhagen rush hour
Clip from Contested Streets, with Jan Gehl talking about cycling in Copenhagen
introduction  •  how + why cycling started  •  cycling culture  •  City Bikes
transport integration  •  sources
key facts  •  urban planning timeline  •  pedestrianisation timeline  •  Denmark timeline
images  courtesy Rambøll, and Tim Beatley
project team  Jane Joyce, Eleanor Knowles, Nick Simons, Clare Sims, Paul Weston
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Copenhagen cycling map
Cycling in Copenhagen
A free comprehensive Copenhagen cycling map is available in PDF from ... City of Copenhagen — it shows all the tracks, routes, bridges, where cycling is possible through areas such as parks, and the Green Routes, as well as the City Bike area and collection points.
Also indicated are train stations, Metro stops and harbour bus stops. On the reverse is all the information a cyclists needs to get about in Copenhagen.
Cycling the city
Copenhagen is ideal for cyclists —
it's mostly flat and not too big. You could see the whole thing in a morning by bike.
In Copenhagen with no bike of your own? One option for the city centre is to use one of the free City Bikes (except in winter).
To see the sites, you could take a tour by rickshaw (bicycle taxi). There are three tours, lasting from 1 to 3 hours. Rickshaws hold two people.
You can also take a guided cycle tour. Between March and November, tour guides with groups of six or more cyclists take riders on a choice of 16 tours. Most are around the city centre. One takes in the surrounding countryside and Amager. Tours last 2.5 to 4.5 hours and cover up to 50km, and the price includes bike hire.
Whether part of a guided tour or not, all cyclists must abide by the laws or face a fine. It is illegal to use the road if there is a cycle path, and illegal to ride a bike in a pedestrian zone or on the pavement. Quite a lot of central Copenhagen has been pedestrianised.