In Copenhagen, cycling is considered a distinct traffic category with its own separate road area, on par with motor traffic and pedestrian traffic. As many as 50 % of Copenhagen residents who work or study in Copenhagen cycle to their workplace or educational institution..

What is it?

Cycling in Copenhagen is based on a long tradition founded in the 1900's and kept alive during the 1960's when cars became a more common means of transportation in Denmark. In recent years, cycling in Copenhagen has grown, predominantly in the city center. Cycling in Copenhagen is competitive among cars and buses with regards to speeds on distances of up to 5 kilometres. Despite a dramatic growth in the use of bicycles during the last 10 years, the number of accidents has substantially decreased. Copenhagen provides a safe, secure and efficient cycling environment for its citizens.

How does it work?

A cycling infrastructure (predominantly based on cycle tracks along all major roads) is nearly in place. Policies, strategies and plans are frequently updated.

Copenhagen's Bicycle Transportation Consists of 3 Parts:

Cycle Policy 2002-2012

  • A series of objectives to be met by 2012 (as taken from the Bicycle Policy 2002):
  • The proportion of people cycling to workplaces in Copenhagen will increase from 34% to 40%.
  • Cyclist risk of serious injury or death should decrease by 50%.
  • The proportion of Copenhagen cyclists who feel safe cycling in town will increase from 57% to 80%.
  • Cyclists traveling speed on trips of over 5 km will increase by 10%.
  • Cyclist comfort will be improved so that cycle track surfaces deemed unsatisfactory shall not exceed 5%. (Currently, 80% of cyclists are satisfied with the cycling conditions in Copenhagen.)

Bicycle Account

  • A bi-annual account that measures the progress of the objectives set forth in the Cycle Policy; it allows for continuous assessment of the Cycle Policy's goals.
  • Updates cyclists' opinion on cycling conditions.
  • Provides an input for cycle planning.

City Bikes

A public-private partnership program offers bicycles to anyone wishing to hire them for the day or a few hours. The City Bike Foundation of Copenhagen, a non-profit organization, runs the program while the City of Copenhagen supplies the stainless steel bike racks and allows them to be placed throughout the city on public property. Today, the project is financed by sponsorships and advertisements and provides maintenance repair work for inmates and the unemployed.

  • There are over 120 bike racks throughout central Copenhagen.
  • Bikes can be obtained in any one of the 120 bike racks by inserting a DKK 20 coin (approx. $ 3) into the bicycle's lock for deposit.
  • After using the bicycle, it can be returned to any of the 120 racks and the coin will be returned automatically.
  • The bicycles may not be locked with the user's own lock.
  • Bikes can only be used within city bike zone, which is essentially all of central Copenhagen.
  • Each bike is equipped with a map that outlines the City Bicycle zone. Venturing outside of this zone may in theory result in a fine.
  • Bicycles are made with heavy-duty construction, puncture-proof tires and features that make it adjustable for each person.

Who Rides a Bicycle?

  • It is socially acceptable to ride a bicycle in Copenhagen.
  • Both men and women ride a bicycle.
  • Cyclists tend to be relatively young; however, all age groups in Copenhagen use bicycles. The percentage of cyclists over 40 years old has increased in recent years.
  • Cyclists come from different financial backgrounds.
  • Copenhageners continue to cycle throughout the winter; the volume of bicycle traffic in the winter is roughly 2/3rds that of the summer.
  • 84 % of Copenhagen residents have access to a bicycle and 68 % cycle at least once a week.
  • As many as 50 % of Copenhagen residents who work or study in Copenhagen cycle to their workplace or educational institution.

Bicycle Tracks

  • Cycle tracks on either side of all major roads with a total cycle track length of approximately 350 kilometers.
  • Tracks are traditionally 2.2 meters wide, however, the new standard is 2.5 meters.

Cycle Lanes

  • Simple painted lines indicate a separate lane for bicycles.
  • Approximately 15 kilometers of cycle lanes exist within Copenhagen.
  • Reinforced cycle lanes (a mix of lanes and tracks) are used occasionally.

Bicycle Parking

  • There is bicycle parking at train stations and bus terminals to facilitate a combination of cycling and public transport. However, the number and quality of parking facilities is not satisfactory among the people.
  • Oesterport and Copenhagen Central Station, for example, provide covered and locked bicycle parking; cyclist can either buy a parking ticket or subscribe to a parking space.

Bicycle Facilities

  • Bicycles are allowed on local and regional trains.
  • Bicycles are allowed on subways, however, not during rush hours.
  • There are pre-green traffic signals for cyclists (i.e. the traffic signal for cyclists turns green a few seconds before the one for cars).
  • An inspector on a specially equipped bicycle measures the surface of tracks every 2 years.
  • Cyclist's door-to-door traveling speed (including delays) averages 15.3 km/hour.

Green Cycle Routes

  • In 2000, the Building and Construction Board approved the proposals for Green Cycle Routes. Plans were updated in 2005/6.
  • Green Cycle Routes are a new option for cyclists who have long journeys, intended to allow cyclists to ride faster by minimizing the amount of stops cyclists have to make.
  • Green Cycle routes typically include a wide cycle path through green surroundings with a separate parallel pedestrian walkway.
  • Typically, cyclists use green routes to travel to and from work. However, green cycle routes are intended as recreational routes as well.
  • Plan includes 22 routes, total of 110 kilometers.
  • The lengths of routes vary, from under 2 kilometers to over 8 kilometers.
  • 1/3 of this network already exists.

Next steps

  • Cycle Track Priority Plan 2006-2016: the realization of this plan includes an additional 65 kilometers of cycle tracks.
  • Green Cycle Route Plan 2007-2024: includes an additional 71 kilometers.
  • Additional cycle link-ups through the city center.
  • Improving bicycle-parking facilities.
  • Implementation of campaigns vis-à-vis advertisements on TV, on posters, in newspapers, magazines, etc.
  • Safety Campaign
  • 'Cycle to Work' Campaign: a collaboration between the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Cyclists Federation; breakfast and information packets are distributed to all cyclists once a year.
  • Cyclists' Behavior Campaign: City of Copenhagen is currently looking for consultants to help devise a campaign that fight cyclist and driver aggression.


  • Roads and Parks Department oversees the annual financial investment of the cycling infrastructure. The Building and Construction Board allot earmarked capital on a specific project.
  • The cost of establishing one kilometer of traditional cycle track on only one side of the road is 8 million DKK (approx. $ 1 million).
  • The realization of the Cycle Track Priority Plan will cost 400 million DKK.
  • The cost of completing the Green Cycle network is estimated at 630 million DKK.
  • Actual investment of cycling infrastructure is growing and is now around 40 million DKK per year (approx $ 6 million).


  • Bicycles can be a form of transportation for any large city.
  • Maintenance of cycling infrastructure is crucial, as cyclists must be kept satisfied and happy so that they continue riding bicycles.
  • Valuable information on how to introduce cycling as a legitimate form of transportation can be found in the EU publication: "Cycling: the way ahead for towns and cities" (Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1999. ISBN: 92-828-6724-7. Publication may be downloaded from the internet. download here.)
  • Information on cycle planning in Copenhagen: