Bicycles are a common way to get around the city and you can either rent one from Osterport Cyckler Oslo Plads www.oesterport-cykler.dk or Kobenhavens Cykler (central station) www.rentabike.dk from DKK75 for a day to DKK340 for a week.
Copenhagen operates a free city bike system during the summer months, the bikes can be recognised by colourful discs in the spokes. A DKK20 deposit is required & on returning the bike to any of the 110 designated racks throughout the city you can get your deposit back. We never saw 2 bikes together so we could not take advantage of this scheme.
People riding bicycles in Copenhagen
Bicycles now have a 37% share of traffic in the Copenhagen metropolitain area -- right up there with cities like Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Münster in Germany.
This makes bicycles the most commonly used form of transportation in Copenhagen. Cars are second with 30%, then comes public transit with 28%. The remaining five per cent are pedestrian trips.
The official goal of the Copenhagen city council is to increase the percentage of commuters who cycle to work or education to 50% by 2015.
In a recent speech in Montreal, the Danish architect and urban design consultant Jan Gehl described Copenhagen as a people-oriented, rather than car-oriented, city.
"In a people-oriented city," he said, "we do everything we can to invite people to walk or bicycle as much as possible in the course of their daily doings."
He said that in most cities the planners panicked back in the 1950s and 60s, when cars started to invade city streets. Traffic departments concentrated on how to make cars move smoothly through cities and park easily, but forgot about all the other ways people might want to use public space.
"For 50 years, the purpose of the city has been to make the cars happy, when they are moving and when they are parked. We have done our planning as if there are no other important issues in the city."
He was also quoted as saying: "We have to see the city as existing not to make cars happy, but to make people happy. The people in the cars can be happy, too; they just might not be able to drive so fast." And when they get out of their cars they can enjoy a much more attractive and healthier city.
Photos: Seventeen people cycling in the rain in Copenhagen
In the middle of my visit to Copenhagen in June 2009 I was treated to one of their famous Baltic low-pressure areas, which brought thirty-six consecutive hours of drenching rainfall.
As I mentioned in my Rainy days in Copenhagen travelogue, this had a somewhat dampening effect on bicycle traffic. Instead of the usual 500,000 there were only about 300,000 cyclists on the streets (my estimate), which was a noticeable reduction but still more than you've ever seen in your life if you happen to come from an over-motorized country.
1. American girls renting bikes at the station
2. Københavns Cykler at the station
3. Bicycle shop at the station
4. Repair shop at the station
Here are some American girls bravely renting bicycles at the main railroad station in Copenhagen -- not terrified by the idea like most of my compatriots. (I could tell you some stories but never mind, they can't help it. And in a few years American cities will catch up and be fit for cycling, too. Have a look at http://bikewalk.org/ for some rays of hope.)
I also rented a bicycle at the station for my entire stay in Copenhagen, and was very satisfied with it.
Københavns Cykler also sells bikes (third photo) and repairs them (fourth photo), but altogether the bicycle station is surprisingly small compared to some of the others I've seen. The one in Münster, for instance, is at least ten times as big, and even has a bicycle washing machine, which I haven't seen in Copenhagen or anywhere else.
Reventlowsgade 11, 1651 København V.
GPS 55°40'18.91" North; 12°33'51.32" East
1. Kids walking their bikes
2. Mother and child on Kronprinsessegade
3. Mother and child on H C Andersens Boulevard
4. Mother and child on Knippelsbro
5. Child in a trailer behind his father's bike
As in other people-oriented cities, such as Münster or Amsterdam, children in Copenhagen learn to ride bicycles at an early age.
But before they are old enough for that they are transported on their parents' bicycles in various ways, for instance on front or rear children's seats, or in trailers.
(Or in cargo bikes, as in the next tip.)
1. Cycling on a typical cycle track
2. This one is even wider than usual
3. On a cycle track near the station
4. Separated by curbs from cars and pedestrians
5. Coming up onto the bridge (Knippelsbro)
In lots of cities, including the one I live in, there is an ongoing discussion about whether bicycles lanes should be painted on the street or on the sidewalk.
If these are the only two options, I much prefer having a lane painted on the street, because car drivers can see me better and are less likely to run me down at intersections. Also I have a smoother ride and can go twice as fast because I don't have to worry about running into stray pedestrians.
Copenhagen, however, has a third option. On most of the main streets they have constructed "cycle tracks" that are higher than the street but lower than the sidewalk and separated from both by curbs. This is no doubt more expensive than just painting lines -- but the cycle tracks are a good investment and are very cheap compared to the huge sums that are spent on building roads for cars.
Since most of the main streets in Copenhagen now have cycle tracks, you don't need a special bicycle map as in many other cities, since nearly every street is safe and convenient for cyclists.
A study commissioned by the city of Copenhagen found that the construction of cycle tracks has resulted in an 18-20% increase in bicycle traffic and a 9-10% decrease in car traffic on roads where cycle tracks have been constructed.
Photos: Cargo bikes in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen has a long history of cargo bikes (trikes actually, since they have three wheels).
In my photos the cargo bikes are all being used to transport people and in one case a dog, but they are also often used to transport, well, cargo.
The cargo bike in my fifth photo is a Christianiabike -- see my Christiania tip under "Things to Do" for more details.
1. Cykelboersen Rent-a-Bike in the rain
2. Driving school next door
3. Cykelboersen signs -- 125th anniversary!
Here's another of the many bike-rental places in Copenhagen.
I didn't rent a bike here, because I already had one from the station, but this shop also looks very good and is highly recommended by VT member cachaseiro ("The Biking Viking"), who is our resident expert on all things Copenhagian.
Cykelboersen happens to be located right next door to a driving school, so if you flunk your driving test you can just come over and buy a bicycle, which would have been a better idea to start with.
Gothersgade 157, 1123 København
GPS 55°41'10.61" North; 12°33'59.72" East
1. The 1,397th cyclist of the day
2. The 1,399th cyclist of the day
3. Free public bicycle pump next to the counter
For the past half century Copenhagen has been very good about collecting and evaluating statistics about how people travel in the city and make use of their public spaces.
A further development in statistics collection is this bicycle counter that was recently installed on H C Andersens Boulevard at the City Hall Square.
This is an important development because without a full and exact count it is easy to underestimate the number of bicycles on a city street. Since bicycles are silent, inconspicuous and space-saving, they are often overlooked, and city planners do not become properly aware of how numerous they are.
On the rainy morning when I took these photos, the man in the first photo was the 1,397th cyclist to pass the counter that day, and the 319,184th to pass since the counter was installed.
In the second photo two more have just passed by, and I then became the 1,400th for that day.
Update: When I first wrote this tip I forgot to mention that there is a free public bicycle pump next to the counter (third photo). Note the slogan: I + bicycle symbol + CPH for Copenhagen.
This free public bicycle pump is a very nice gesture to cyclists on the part of the city -- but it would have been even more useful in the 19th and 20th centuries, when bicycle tires and tubes were not as robust as they are now.
VT member Trekki (Ingrid) saw several of these free public bicycle pumps on her trip through Sweden in the summer of 2009, and she has posted a tip about them called Cycling friendly cities, air-pumps available on her Sweden page.
GPS 55°40'31.56" North; 12°34'7.73" East
I was in Copenhagen weekend July 8-9th 2011, and soon noticed that I could take a bicycle to travel around the city, by simply taking a bike from stands strategically placed near to sights of interest, and riding the bike to another stand. In order to take the bike (which is locked) I needed to insert a 20kr coin to release the lock. The 20kr stayed in the bike lock until I returned and locked the bike in the next place at which I stopped. The scheme is very good, but so popular that at times there are NO bikes available. Also the bikes are not allowed to be taken outside the city (as shown on the map attached to the bike). The bikes are easily recognised as they are (generally) painted white but also with advertisements. I managed two bike rides with my friends. I understand that this bike scheme is only available in July and August.
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