Denmark is the country where the bicycle is one of the most common methods of transportation. In fact, only Netherland beats Denmark when it comes to biking.
In Denmark, the roads are designed to accommodate cyclists, in that they generally have their own lane at a safe distance from the cars, making cycling a much more comfortable option.
It's also an escape from the costly transportation system in Denmark, especially for students, as it is very easy to find and purchase cheap used bikes online, so you can commute easily around the city.
Cycling in Denmark is definitely one of the best forms of transportation around the city. As about 60% of Danes use cycle to go to work and school every day, there are certain rules to be followed strictly in Denmark, else you will be fined.
What are the basic cycling rules in Denmark?
Denmark is dark, especially in the winter! When it's dark, all cyclists are required by law to have both front and rear lights on.
A good rule of thumb: when the street lights are on, you need to have lights on your bike as well!
Both of these lights need to be fixed on the bike and be visible from 300 meters.
If you get stopped by the police without lights, you can get fined up to 500 DKK per light.
We would recommend fixed magnet lights from the supermarket, they are cheap and have easy battery change so you always can stay visible and safe.
Depending on the area you live or park your bike, there are chances people can steal your cycle lights, this was what I personally heard when I went to buy lights for my own bike.
Thus, you can instead get the detachable lights which can cost up to 50 kroner. You can easily take off the lights when you park your bike somewhere, and keep them with you, while you can attach them again later, when needed.
Your bike needs to have reflectors installed all the time, to be legal.
You need to have them installed on your wheels, pedals and also front and rear.
And they need to be there regardless of the time of the day or season.
Remember, reflectors on yourself (e.g. reflective vest) can also be very helpful to other people!
All bikes need to have a functioning bell on their handlebar.
You are probably not going to use it as much, since people in Denmark tend to be very well behaved on a bike; however you can get fined up to 500 DKK if the police catch you without a bell.
And it does not cost you a lot either. You can find it around 20-30 kroner on Tiger shops.
This one might be a bit obvious, but all the bicycles need to have functioning brakes on both wheels. Remember to change the brake pads if they are worn out. They are fairly affordable. When buying a new bike, be aware of the position of the brakes, as bikes can be made with or without foot breaks, but always have hand breaks.
Brakes have to be in good condition, otherwise yeah you guessed it, you'll be fined!
Hand gestures (Important!)
In Denmark, it is required to signal when turning right/left or stopping the bike. When you turn right, you need to take your right arm straight out to signal that you are turning right, and left arm when turning left. If you need to stop completely you should raise your hand up to signal that you are going to stop.
Remember to signal whenever you are turning left/right or need to stop the bike. You may be fined if the police see you turning without signalling.
This may not be the most important, as many people do not use it. But for some extra safety, it is good to have the helmets on.
Beware of the Winds
Yes! Winds, the crazy Danish weather which everyone talks about. Though you may not see a lot of snow in Denmark, it's windy out here. You need to be prepared to cycle in windy and/or rainy weather. If you are not pro at cycling, keep your bike at home when it’s windy, for safety reasons.
Bring a bike from home or buy one in Denmark?
What is better? Of course, it depends.
Generally, the wisest idea would be taking the value of the bike into consideration.
Denmark is a safe country but that doesn’t mean that your bicycle won’t get stolen. And the more expensive the bike is, the higher the likelihood that it would be an attractive steal.
However, second-hand bikes are often very cheap and in good condition, if you are not a devout cyclist. A good, functional bike can easily cost under 1.000 DKK on market places such as dba.dk or Facebook market place.
Where can you park your bike?
Because the majority of people use bikes in Denmark, there are numerous free bike-parking facilities for almost every building or institution. In case you want to leave your bike in more unconventional places which have no parking facility (e.g. around a bus station), then you can. It’s not uncommon to see bikes left in the most random of places. 😜
Can you bring your bike inside public transportation?
Most of the public transportation allows the possibility to bring your bike along. For example, you can do this in the metro, S-tog (S-trains), in inter-city and regional trains, letbanen (tram) and in buses travelling among cities (from private companies like FlixBus or Kombardo).
Pay attention that there might be some restrictions regarding the time of the day you are allowed to bring your bike in, and sometimes you might be required to buy a special ticket for your bike.
Normal public city buses don’t usually allow bringing your bike inside.
When it comes to using taxis, some have special bike holders attached to the back of the car, but then again, you will need to pay extra for that.
Cycling rules in Denmark
- Always ride on the right side.
- Hand gestures are very important while going right, left or when you are stopping in between.
- Do not ride in the pedestrian area. If there is no cycling path, just keep on riding on the right side.
- Follow the traffic rules. If they have cycling traffic lights, great, follow them! Otherwise follow the normal traffic light signals.
- Cycle paths are only for cycling; if you are tired and want to walk, do not walk on the cycling path. Get out of the bike lane.
- Be it during dark hours or anytime on the day time when the visibility is poor, both reflectors and front and back lights are a must.
- You are not allowed to have someone on your back seat, unless it's a child and have a child seat on the back.
- Always stop when the bus stops, wait for the passenger to get out of the bus, and until the bus closes its doors .
- Never have your friend riding on the side, if the cycle lane is too small, as it’s very difficult to overtake for other riders.
- Alcohol rules apply to cyclists as well. Do not drink and drive. This may risk your life as well as get you fined if you are caught.
Tips to discourage bike-theft
As mentioned, even if Denmark is an overall trusting and trustworthy society, bike thefts are very common.
What you can do to decrease the risk of your precious bike being stolen is:
- Don’t buy a fancy expensive bike, as these are the target of most bike thieves.
- Always lock your bike when it’s parked, even if you are only gone for a few minutes.
- Always use the bike parking facilities; fasten your bike to the bike rack or to a solid object, for extra precaution.
- Lock your bike through the back wheel, but for more safety also lock it through the front wheel or bike frame, and preferably fasten it to the bike rack.
- Don’t leave your bike parked for a long time next to stations or busy areas.
- Take the (removable) bike lights and helmet with you when you leave the bike.
That's it when it comes to biking in Denmark! Although this may seem like a lot, it's easy to familiarize yourself with biking practices here, once you actually get out there on the bike lanes!
Happy cycling, everyone!
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