Welcome to Copenhagen, the city where cycling is king

  • Copenhagen is home to a large number of cycle paths and lanes.
  • The Danish capital is a leader when it comes to urban cycling.

With a world-class dining scene, charming waterfront and favorable work/life balance, Copenhagen is a city with an enviable reputation.

And when it comes to getting around its streets, many of the Danish capital's residents choose to cycle rather than drive. But a bicycle-friendly culture does not happen overnight, with the transition to two wheels in Copenhagen decades in the making.

"If you want to create a biking city then you have to make it safe to go by bike," Lord Mayor Frank Jensen told Sustainable Energy. "In Copenhagen, children learn to bike when they start going to school, they bike together with their parents, and when they grow up they continue biking."

Jensen added that 62 percent of Copenhageners used their bike for daily transport, a statistic he described as "magnificent."

Considerable effort has been made to construct raised, safe lanes for cyclists to use. "We have 41 percent of all trips to work and study being done by bike right now in Copenhagen," Marie Kastrup, who is head of Copenhagen's Bicycle Program, said.

"We have a lot of bikes," Kastrup added. "Copenhageners own five times more bicycles than cars and we have around 375 kilometers of separated bicycle tracks."

When it comes to sustainability, Copenhagen has grand ambitions and wants to be carbon neutral by 2025. It's no surprise that bicycles — with no tailpipe emissions — are a key part of this plan.

The benefits of cycling rather than driving are not just environmental, Kastrup said.

"Compared to similar cities in Europe and in the Western world, Copenhagen has relatively low congestion. We made calculations that if between 15 and 20 per cent of all cyclists today were to shift to cars, in several streets traffic would completely stand still."