Copenhagen: 5 Steps to Biking Like a Dane2 min read
When crossing the street in Copenhagen, people look both ways; first for the bikes, and then for the cars. More specifically, most Danes prefer biking instead of relying on cars or public transit. In fact, there are more bikes than people in Copenhagen!
As a student studying abroad, noticing this for the first time can be intimidating—let’s be honest, I’m probably not the only one whose biking skills are a bit rusty.
The bikers in Copenhagen range from children to elderly, and from slow to fast speeds. This means that no matter what level of a cyclist you are, you can experience biking in Copenhagen. After reading this article you’ll be able to bike like a Dane.
Step 1: Finding a bike
It’s crucial that you find the bike that fits you the best. Beginners should ride a bike with a lower crossbar so that you can easily hop on and off. I rented from Rådhusstræde Cykler—the owner is super friendly and takes great care of his bikes. His bikes already come with a bike lock, but you must rent a helmet separately.
The people working in the bike shop suggested bikes that fit me the best and answered all my questions. This made picking a bike very easy and stress-free, which was important because I had no idea what to look for.
Step 2: Learning the signals
Riding a bike in Copenhagen is similar to driving a car, except your hands become the turning signals. When turning left, you must hold out your left arm, and likewise when turning right. Lastly, when coming to a stop you must raise your hand in the air as if you are giving someone a high-five.
Step 3: Rules!
Several laws are in place for bikers. These include:
- No phone use while biking
- Only biking in the bike lane (unless there isn’t one)
- Biking in the direction of traffic
- Abiding by the bike path’s own traffic light
- Keep to the right of the bike path if you’re a slower biker
- Never turn left onto a busy street (click here to see what I mean)
Almost every street in Copenhagen has its own path and light signals for cyclists. However, keep an eye out for one-way streets, and plan your trip before getting on your bike to avoid pulling out your phone; I suggest using the Citymapper App. Lastly, if the street lights are on, put your bike lights on!
Step 4: Practice makes perfect
Before heading out on a long bike ride, bike down a less busy street and practice turning left onto a street, using your hand signals, and getting the hang of things.
Step 5: Have fun!
I’ve discovered the best things while biking in Copenhagen. These things range from new restaurants opening, to charming side streets. It’s one of the best ways to get a feeling of what the city has to offer.
After a recent visit to Copenhagen (where we used the excellent system of Bycyklen e-bike share), I agree with your assessment. Especially in regards to signaling and following the rules. Unlike American cyclists, the Danes make it easy for everyone by cycling responsibly. And woe is the plight of a car driver not yielding the right of way. I may have learned some Danish curse words when a driver cut off a lady on her bike!
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