Biking in Copenhagen

Bicycles are everywhere. There are dedicated lanes for bicycles, sometimes with their own pavement paint and directional arrows on the ground (for turn lanes, etc). At many intersections, they have their own signals. At the intersections with turn lanes, the signals also indicate turns. This is to enable the cyclists to cross car traffic without risk of collision. Remarkable to me, the cyclists followed the signals and didn’t run red lights. It’s mostly remarkable become this is uncommon in the US.

Bike lanes are at least separated from the car traffic by a very thick line. In most cases, the lane is raised and between the road and the sidewalk. This adds a level of safety for pedestrians. On some busier roads, the bike lane and sidewalk are separated by parked cars, providing an additional level of safety and protection. Road design follows the model of slow at the edges to fast in the center.

|_ cars/trucks _|_ parking/transit stops _|_ bikes _|_ peds _|

Bike lanes exist on each side of the road and follow the same flow of traffic as automobiles. This way, as a pedestrian and driver, you now to look in a particular direction and not have to worry about hitting a biker or getting hit.

Parking bikes is another challenge facing cities with high bike usage. There are hundreds of bike parking areas across Copenhagen. Some are formal, but appear ad hoc. Interestingly, very few bikes are locked up; most are just inserted into the rack and left. Additionally, some bikes are parked by the side of a building, also usually unlocked. Typically, the locked bikes had expensive wheels or elaborate baskets, or were hauling bikes.

At some of the rail stations, there are double-decker bike racks, where the top rack pulls out and down so that the bike can roll on/off easily. Bike racks on the ground usually have slim braces to put the front wheel in. They avoid more elaborate designs (e.g.: racks in the shape of bikes), instead using more pragmatic, compact designs. These designs still enable you to lock your front wheel to the rack bracket if you choose, but allow for high density bike parking.

Since biking is an everyday activity, people usually wear everyday clothing while biking. I only saw a couple people dressed in riding gear. Since they don’t have to bike at the pace of car traffic, they don’t have to attempt to ride as fast as cars; it can be more leisurely. Some people bike fast, some bike slow. They have bells to indicate to pedestrians and other bikers that they are coming or passing.

With the directional flows of bike traffic, the signals and signage, Copenhagen has a comfortable mix of multiple modes of transport. I never felt unsafe crossing either the bike lanes or traffic lanes be spite there being a very high volume of bike traffic in the city.