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How to ride a bike in Copenhagen, Denmark

Updated: November 8, 2012
By: Ian Yacobucci
Bikes parked along the sidewalk in Copenhagen, Denmark

Bikes parked along the sidewalk in Copenhagen, Denmark

My guide to Denmark’s cycling rules of the road!

If Stockholm is made for walking then Denmark is undoubtedly made for cycling.  Especially if you consider that nearly 40 percent of the city’s population uses bicycles as their primary mode of transportation.

Of course there’s always the metro, light rail trains, or taxis if money isn’t an issue, but if you really want to experience Copenhagen then using a bicycle is the only way to do it.

Commuters riding their bikes in Copenhagen, Denmark

Commuters riding their bikes in Copenhagen, Denmark

In fact, Copenhagen has an entire cycling infrastructure which includes separate bike lanes, traffic lights, and laws. As a cyclist in the city it’s important to understand and follow not only the written laws, but the unspoken ones as well.

During my visit to Copenhagen I was lucky that a friend of mine was able to lend me his bicycle. During my cycling journey across the city I rode with friends and locals through the winding cobble stone streets, bike lanes, parks, and canals where I learned a thing or two about how to ride a bike in Copenhagen.

Rocking my bike in Copenhagen, Denmark

Rocking my bike in Copenhagen, Denmark

RULES

1. In Copenhagen you ride your bike on the right (just like driving in North America)

2. Follow the traffic rules when riding through the city. While riding you need to be aware of cyclists, pedestrians, cars, buses, and light rail transit. So be aware, follow the light signals and be careful.

3. Use hand signals to let other cyclists know if you’re turning right, left, or stopping. If you don’t know the hand signals ask someone or look online. http://cycleguide.dk/2010/05/hand-signals/

4. Walk your bike on the sidewalk. This one surprised me but I noticed that many people did this especially in the no bike zone of old town; it’s polite and safe.

5. Helmets are NOT mandatory so don’t worry you forget yours at home, you won’t get a ticket. However, if you’d feel safer with one there are lots of bike shops around.

Unwritten Rules

1. LOCK YOUR BIKE! – There’s an unwritten rule amongst Copenhaganers who enjoy a good night on the town. Basically, if you forget to lock it your bike its fair game and more often than not if you forget to lock it you’ll be looking for a new one in the morning.

2. If you’re slow stay to the right because the left of the lane is for faster riders, just like on the highway.

If you don’t have a bicycle, don’t worry Copenhagen has a cycling program for tourists called Bycykler. It’s a shared bike program with public bike stations all across the city where you can rent bicycles. Now that you know the rules you’re ready to ride. So have fun, be safe, and enjoy the city.

Ride on,

Yak

 

Ian Yacobucci

Traveling the Trans-Siberian, mountaineering the Himalayas, or teaching in Tokyo I'm always trying something new. As a someone who's worked, studied, and traveled to 40+ countries around the world I'm here to share my experiences so you can do the same!

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