Bicycling in Denmark

Bicycling in Denmark is probably one of the best ways to see Denmark. For many people living in Denmark, it is the preferred method of getting to work, shopping and getting about.

Since Denmark is relatively flat, it is easy, convenient and a lot less expensive than driving a car or even public transport. In fact Denmark has been held as model city for cycling and been named the first Bike City in the World and consistently ranks as the top bicycling city.

If you live in Denmark, you will be exposed to cyclists on a daily basis. It doesn't matter if it is rainy, sunny or snowy, the cyclists will be out. Bicycling in Denmark is part of life for most Danes and will be for most expats too :).

Denmark is constantly striving to make "two wheeling" more accessible and convenient. Things like:

  • Making sure cycle paths are well maintained and creating mores every year. There are 12000 kilometers of bike paths in Denmark. There are nearly 360km just in Copenhagen. 
  • Creating new parking facilities for bikes especially at train stations and central Copenhagen.
  • Installing separate traffic lights for cyclists to make commuting safer and quicker.
  • Implementing laws that always favor bicycles over motor vehicles has helped keep people out of their cars and on their bikes.

There is an extensive network of bicycle paths, which make bicycling in Denmark safer and easier. These paths run along major roads for convenient access to city centers and other vital areas, but they can also take you through some wonderful forests and meadows, around small lakes and scenic waterways.

Denmark is putting in bigger bicycle lanes in Copenhagen, Arhus and Odense. These new bike lanes are called Supercyklestier. Unfortunately many Danes are having a hard time with the name so it might be changed. Actually I find it quite easy to say, easier than many other Danish phrases / words!

Since most of the landscape is generally flat, riding a bicycle in Denmark is pretty much a pleasure. That's not to say, however, there aren't the occasional hills and steep slopes to contend with.

Before taking off on your bicycle, there are some things you need to know. Bicycling in Denmark requires the rider to follow traffic laws similiar to those for motor vehicles. Even though cyclists are given their own paths to ride on, there are traffic signals and signs they must obey. Bicycles must also be properly equipped.

Required equipment

For everyone bicycling in Denmark, there are strict laws to follow.

Every bicycle must have a bell on the handlebar in order to warn other cyclists you are passing on the left and also to warn pedestrians of your approach.

If you plan on bicycling in denmark after dark, you must have a headlamp with a white light on the front and a red tail lamp on the back.

Reflectors are also necessary. A good alternative to having lots of relectors on your pedals and bike frame is to use reflectors on your trousers. There are straps made from reflective material which will keep your trousers from getting caught in the chain.

They are just like the slap bracelets that children love to wear. They just go on your legs! They are very handy and readily available in most bike shops and many discount stores in Denmark.

Important to remember: When bicycling in Denmark, you are subject to many of the same traffic rules that apply to motor vehicles and if you break those laws you can and often will get fined. So know the rules before heading out.

Avoid Bicycle Theft

typical danish bicycle lock

Here are some important tips if you plan to be bicycling in Denmark.

Your bike needs to have a bicycle lock. In Denmark, the most popular type of lock are the ones that are mounted over the back wheel. They are bolted to the frame. When you are ready to lock the bike, you just push down the bar which goes through the wheel preventing the bike from being ridden. To unlock you put in your key and the bar slides back open.

Bicycle locks should be used at all times to deter crime. Denmark has a very large bicycle theft problem. The Danes accept it as part of life and just file an insurance claim and get a new bicycle!

In addition to the normal lock, I suggest getting a good chain lock to secure your bicycle to a post, bike stand, etc.

I would suggest you never leave your bicycle outside your residence, unless you do not mind waking up and finding it gone!

If possible place it in the bicycle cellar(most apartments have them) or inside. It is a very common practice to leave bicycles outside apartment blocks or houses.

P.S. You can get a fine for not having a lock for your bicycle and most insurance companies require you have the back wheel lock on your bike if you want to be covered.

Bicycling in Denmark
 Rules

danish bicycle christiania bike

As a bicyclist you are not immune to the traffic laws, so make sure you obey these simple bicycling in Denmark rules to avoid a fine of 1000 kroner or more for any infraction.

  1. If a bike path is available, you must use it and not the road.
  2. If there is no bike path, you need to ride on the right side of the road to the right of the traffic.
  3. You must obey traffic lights for both cars and bicycles. Many bike paths have their own set of lights.
  4. You are not allowed to ride bikes on the walking streets, sidewalks or pedestrian crossings. You need to walk your bike in those areas.
  5. You may not carry anything on a bike that is longer than 3 meters and/or wider than 1 meter. The exception is if you have an extended carrier/cart attached to your bicycle, it can extend up to 3.5 meters.
  6. You need to use hand signals for stopping, turning and going straight. When traveling in high traffic areas and you don't warn other cyclists of your intentions, you can quickly cause an accident.
  7. If you are walking with your bicycle, you need to do it off the bicycle path, because you are now a pedestrian.
  8. When you want to turn left at an intersection, you ride on the right side of the path, signal your intention to stop, ride through the intersection and stop at the opposite side. There you wait for the light to change and continue across.
  9. It is against the law to hold on to other vehicles while riding your bicycle.
  10. Children under 6 are not allowed to ride bikes without the supervision of someone over the age of 15. (This law is broken on a daily basis -- I don't know why it is on the books!)
  11. A bicycle may not carry more people than it is designed for. Check with your local bicycle shop for outfitting your bicylce to carry your children if you are so inclined.
  12. When bicycling in Denmark, always try to ride single file, unless you are passing. This is a real problem during commuter hours
  13. You should always keep both feet on your pedals and at least one hand on the bike.
  14. Even though it is not a law, you should wear a cycle helmet when bicycling in Denmark.  
  15. Learn the traffic signs and what they mean- ignorance can get you fined.
  16. You can get more information on bicycling in Denmark at the Dansk Cyklist Forbund at www.dcf.dk

Remember if you plan to live in the city and will be fairly close to work, don’t buy a car – invest in a good bicycle. Learn more about buying a bicycle.  It will give you a lot of pleasure, exercise and save you a small FORTUNE. Car ownership is very expensive!

P.S.  Remember, when you take your bicycle on a train, you must put them in the carriage with bike racks. They are marked on the trains. Do not take them into the passenger area and please do not block doors or aisles preventing people from getting by. Be courteous.

You can even borrow one at some IKEA stores, so you can take all your flat pack items home. See photo below!

free bicycles in denmark

Exploring Denmark on a Bike

If you plan to use a bike to explore Denmark, there are 2 good options. If you just want to explore the major cities ( Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and Frederikshav, etc. ) use the city bike program or rent a bike for the day or week. 

These are "free" bikes located around the city. Copenhagen has 2000+ bikes and Aarhus has 450 City Bikes. Other cities are following suit. Last month I saw 20- 30 city bikes in Frederikshavn. They are usually available from April to December.

The bikes are free to use. You simply place a 20 kroner coin in the slot on the bike, which releases it from the chain on the bike rack. Now you can ride the bicycle in the city zone. Please do not ride outside the city zone - there is a map on the handlebars. When you are finished riding the bike, return it to one of the many stands around the city. When you place the chain back on the bike, the coin is released and you get your money back. This is just a loaner bike, so please don't take them home. This is the same system used in the grocery stores when getting a shopping cart.

FYI: If you see a City Bike locked up or taken outside the area, call 80 30 14 34 in Copenhagen to report it and call 80 60 00 60 in Aarhus. Both calls are free and you will be helping to keep the bikes free and available for all to use.

Your other option is to rent a bicycle from one of the many bike shops throughout Denmark. You can rent them by the day or week and sometimes just for a few hours. Check with your local tourist board for the one nearest you.

If you want to explore more of Denmark, check out some of the bicycle maps and tour guides for cyclists, which can be gotten at the local tourist office or through the Danish Cycling Federation.

If you would like to see the real Denmark, here is a fantastic idea. A unique bicycling in

If cycling is not your preferred form of transport, Denmark has lots of good public transportation available too.

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Children and helmets 
I was surprised to see your claim that children have to wear bicycle helmets by law in Denmark. I've checked, and this does not seem to be the case. …

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