Copenhagen are known to be one of the top bike capitals in the world, and are a very bike friendly city with bike lanes almost all over town. There are bridges crossing the harbor which are only for bikes and pedestrians. Super bike lanes, which help you get fast from one point to another. Streets where the traffic lights are adjusted so that the bikes can go along, riding the green wave and don’t have to stop.
Bikes are for everyone, no matter if you are rich or poor, if you are royal or if you are a student, and you will find bikes in many different sizes and shapes, from the normal bike you see everywhere, with or without trailer, to the 3-wheeler used to transport goods or the kids.
If you look at the numbers there are more bikes in the center of Copenhagen than cars. Within the last 20 years the number of bikes has raised with 68%, and in Copenhagen it is estimated that there are around 650.000 bikes.
Every morning the city will slowly wake up, and more and more bikes get out on the streets. Men in business suits, fashionable ladies in high heels, and parents carrying their children in a cargo bike, - everybody jumps on their bike and get off to work or school. And till late in the evening you will find the Copenhageners biking all over the city, and it is estimated that 1.2 million kilometers are covered by cyclists in the city, - every day.
In many big cities around the world it is seldom that you see a cyclist, and if you do, they are properly out to do some exercise, but for many Copenhageners cycling are the preferred means of transportation, because it is the fastest and easiest way to get around in the city.
You have several options if you decide to go around town on a bike just like the locals. Many hotels and hostels have bikes you can rent (ask at the reception), and around the center you will find a number of shops like Baisikeli, where you can rent a bike for a few hours, a day or a week. If you need a cargo bike to get around with your kids, you can also head to Christiania where you will be able to rent a cargo bike at Christiania Cykler.
If you want to go for a daytrip outside of the center, you can bring the bike on the S-Train. The train has special wagons made for bikes, and there is no extra charge to bring a bike on the S-Train. Just beware of the rush hour, since many people from the suburbs bring their bike to the center using the train.
Not being used to ride a bike in a city with that many bikes as Copenhagen, can make it a quite overwhelming and at times chaotic, but no worry, following some simple rules will get you going, and before you know it you will be riding like you have never done anything else.
Before jumping on a bike in a city like Copenhagen, read those tips to get a better experience:
Tips for riding a bike in Copenhagen
- Before you get on the bike, it can be a good idea to stop for a moment, take look at the biking traffic, just to see how the locals behave in the traffic. Look and learn.
- Keep to the right on the bike lane. If you are not used to ride a bike, you will properly find yourself as being one of the slower ones, and you will be overtaken repeatedly. Staying as far as possibly to the right will let the faster ones pass you without problems, just like when you are driving a car, and you won’t have people yelling at you to have you get out of the way.
- Just like the car traffic are on the right side of the road, so are the bikes, - don’t drive in the wrong direction. It’s illegal, and you can get a fine.
- Don’t drive a bike on the sidewalk, those are for pedestrians. If you are on the sidewalk with a bike, then you have to push it.
- If you need to stop while at the bike lane, for example to look at a map, then don’t just stand there, get of the bike and get to the sidewalk, else you will be in the way for other cyclists.
- Beware of buses and trucks which are turning right. Make sure that you place yourself so that the driver can see you. Many accidents including bicycles happens because the driver can’t see the cyclist, and believe that no one are there when they make the turn.
- Use hand signals when you turn right, left or stop.
The following signals are given by law, and should be used:
a. Turn right, - put your right arm straight out, to signal that you are turning right.
b. Turn left, - put your left arm straight out, to signal that you are turning left.
c. Stop, - Raise your left arm, to signal that you are stopping.
- Use of light on the bike.
It is mandatory to use the light from sunset till sunrise.
Just follow the streetlight, when they are turned on, then turn on the bike lights.
- Don’t use your phone while biking, not even for navigation, it takes away your attention from the road, and besides, it is illegal.
- Follow the traffic lights
Just like the cars, you have to follow the traffic lights. Larger junctions have special lights for cyclists, which are normally placed next to the one for cars, but are in a smaller design, and are marked with a bicycle in top.
A timelapse showing the morning traffic in Copenhagen.
Do also check my tips about doing Copenhagen on a budget
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