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Cycling in Copenhagen

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Cycling in Copenhagen

If you think about Copenhagen, you automatically think about cycling in Copenhagen. It really is an integral part of our culture! Crowds of men, women and children, cycling safely, on all manner of bicycles, and undertaking a wide variety of journeys are a familiar image. The residents of Copenhagen use their bicycles to go to school, college, work, the shops and to socialise. Copenhagen bicycles themselves are more functional than sporting, and usually have a basket for carrying bags etc… Cyclists dress in their normal clothes rather than lycra and it is not uncommon to see men in suits and women in heels and skirts cycling around the city!

Living Suites Cycling in Copenhagen

Photo credit: Visit Denmark

The history of cycling in Copenhagen

To understand the cycling culture in our city it is worth going back in time. The bicycle was invented towards the end of the 1800s and gained popularity during the early 1900s. It was especially popular for those who could not afford the new automobiles which were also coming onto the scene, or get access to public transport which was patchy at best. It was also a fantastic source of freedom for people of all social classes.

In many cities throughout the world the bicycle became a key mode of transport throughout the first half of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the 1960s when the car became a more affordable option for many families that the future of the bicycle was under threat. Many cities, including Copenhagen, adopted cars as the main source of transport and by the 1970s Copenhagen bicycle sank to just 10%. Many Copenhagen residents started to resent the way their city had been taken over by the car, along with its associate problems; increased accidents, pollution and congestion.

In 1973 the world was knocked sideways by the Oil Crisis when the price of oil quadrupled. Various Governments reacted in different ways, and Denmark introduced car free Sundays as a way of conserving fuel. It was a moment of enlightenment. The residents enjoyed this particular day of the week, and a number of cycling lobby groups sprouted up who put pressure on the Government to bring back not just cycling, but safe cycling to the city.

By the early 1980s a number of segregated cycling tracks had sprung up but this wasn’t enough for the healthy, and environmentally conscious Danes. Continued pressure from various groups forced the Government, to not just provide routes and paths for cyclists, put to make the bike a priority over the car. Throughout the 1990s the network of Copenhagen bike routes grew and in 2001 the first government policy ‘Cycle Track Priority Plan 2006-2016’ was published with a range of specific goals. Subsequent cycling strategies have bought further improvements and targets for Copenhagen.

Cycling in Copenhagen today

Today the cycling movement in Copenhagen has produced some impressive figures*:

  • Copenhageners owned 675,00 bikes and just 12,000 cars
  • 41% of all trips to work and study is by bike
  • 62% of Copenhageners use a bike to travel to work or study
  • 1.4 million km is cycled in Copenhagen every weekday, an increase of 22% since 2006
  • There has been an increase in ‘feeling of safety’ of 43%
  • 25% of all families in Copenhagen with 2 children own a cargo bike
  • Significant economic gains

*Figures are for 2016

Some of the key developments that have made these figures possible include:

The Copenhagen bike network

Living Suites Cycling in Copenhagen

Photo credit: Visit Denmark

Copenhagen is now home to 350km of cycle routes which are segregated from the road and are really safe to cycle on. The routes are part of an intelligent traffic lighting system which prioritises buses and bikes at key junctions. There are also numerous ‘counting machines’ which provide the administrators with valuable traffic information.

There are also a number of apps which can help you find your way around Copenhagen. Some also have information on where you can pick up Copenhagen bike rentals and where you can park your bike. Our favourites include;

I bike CPH – helps you to find your way around Copenhagen on a bike. It also includes extra information such as where to park your bike, road surface type eg. Cobbles, routes for cargo bikes etc…

Donkey Republic – helps you to find a bike rental near you

St John Ambulance First Aid for Cyclists - A useful app which aims to give every cyclist the skills to deal with the most common cycling injuries.

The Green Wave

Many key routes through the city have what’s called a ‘Green Wave’ where the traffic lights are co-ordinated specifically for cyclists. The idea is that if you cycle at a constant speed of 20km per hour, you will hit green lights all the way!

Copenhagen Bike bridges and the Harbour Circle

Living Suites cycling in Copenhagen

Photo credit: Visit Denmark

2006 saw the opening of Bryggebroen, or the Brygge Bridge over the Copenhagen harbour, which was the first such bridge in centuries. It connected Havneholmen to the Brygge islands and was for bicycles only. The following decade have seen thirteen additional Copenhagen bike bridges with four more planned. These ‘cycle only’ bridges have radically altered the connectivity of the city and have made many journeys faster and more convenient by bike. They have also been designed by great architects giving additional interest to the Copenhagen waterfront. Our favourites include; The Circle Bridge (Cirkelbroen), The Inner Harbour Bridge (Inderhavnbroen), and finally The Snake (Cykelslangen) which is an elevated cycle track taking you over shops and the harbour on a long orange ‘snake’ like structure.

These important new bridges have also contributed to the development of the Harbour Circle, which is a 13km scenic route which stretches both sides of Copenhagen harbour. This route is perfect for experiencing the waterside landmarks of the city and takes you from the picturesque Nyhaven in the north to Sluseløbet in the south.

Bike rental and Copenhagen City Bikes

If you are just visiting Copenhagen and would like to cycle then don’t worry, Copenhagen bike rental is extremely easy. There are plenty of bike rental shops, or you can borrow a Copenhagen City Bike for 25kr an hour and they even come with built in GPS. Many Copenhagen establishments including Living Suites also provide free bike use for their guests.

Bikes on the metro and trains

If you want to travel further afield you can also take your bikes on the metro, the S-train and even on a regional train when you buy a ticket. There are some restrictions such as no bikes at Nørreport Station during rush hour, so it is worth checking these out on the Visit Copenhagen website.
Finally if you are planning on cycling in Copenhagen, here are some important tips and information for you:

  • Wearing a helmet in Copenhagen is not mandatory, and many Danes don’t, but remember accidents can happen, especially if it has been a while since you cycled, so we do recommend you wear one
  • Lights are mandatory even during the day and must be fixed onto the bike. You must have a white light pointing forward and a red light directed backwards. They must be visible from 300m
  • A working bell is also mandatory
  • All Copenhagen bicycles must have working brakes on both wheels with either handbrakes or a handbrake and a ‘back pedal’ brake
  • Many Copenhagen bicycles come with a built in wheel lock, but we advise you also carry an additional lock
  • Cars as well as cyclists drive on the right hand side of the road
  • You must not cycle in pedestrian areas
  • You must obey traffic regulations
  • You must give way to bus passengers getting on or off buses
  • You are not allowed to use your phone whilst on Copenhagen bicycles
  • You are not allowed to cycle whilst drunk
  • Failure to comply with any of the above could result in a fine

There are also a number of hand signals it is worth knowing about:

  • Extending either arm upwards – means you are stopping
  • Extending your arm to the right or left – means you are turning in that direction

Visiting Copenhagen?

Are you looking for accommodation in an area that is great for Cycling? Here at Living Suites, we offer spacious serviced apartments that offer all the comforts of home but with that additional hotel feel. Located in Copenhagen North, the aparthotel is the place to explore Copenhagen and further afield.


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Contact us

Thank you for your interest in Living Suites Copenhagen North. We are pleased to invite our guests to contact us with all their enquiries, we are here to help. Please inform us about your needs by using the contact form below. You are also welcome to contact us by e-mail or phone.

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Kind regards,
The Living Suites Team

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Living Suites ApS
Rundforbivej 295 
2850 Nærum
CVR-nr: 35644105
Email: mail@livingsuites.dk
Phone: +45 25 280 280 

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