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Expat in Germany: 5 Things You Should Know Before Cycling in Denmark

Thursday, November 11, 2010

5 Things You Should Know Before Cycling in Denmark

Cyclist counter showing how many cyclists have passed through at any given time.  These are found all over Denmark and really demonstrate the popularity of cycling in Denmark
Cycling in Denmark is a great way to see this incredibly bike friendly country, but there's a few things you should know before you go.

1) Cycling in Denmark:  Hand Signals May Be Different
I found this one out by accident while cycling in Copenhagen rush hour.  Instead of putting the left hand up to indicate a right turn, most cyclists in Denmark just stick their right hand straight out as indicated below.   Also, to indicate "stopping", we saw many cyclists, including our guide, raise his right hand in a stopping gesture.  I also saw some cyclists indicate they were stopping as indicated below, so there seems to be a variety of hand signals at play, but worth knowing since...

2)  Cycling in Denmark:  There are a lot of Cyclists
43% of people living in Copenhagen and the city's goal is to increase this to 50% by 2015.  In Odense, Denmark's third largest city, 50% of people cycle.  While cycling in the Copenhagen rush hour, it wasn't uncommon for there to be 30 cyclists waiting at a stop light.  With so many cyclists, knowing the correct hand signals is essential for safety.  Which brings us to #3...
The bike parking lot in front of the Main Train Station in Copenhagen

3) Cycling in Denmark:  Danes are Fast Cyclists
Many Danes use cycling as a mode of transport to get to work, school, etc... and often they're in a hurry since they're not just cycling for leisure as is more common in North America.  You don't need to worry about keeping up, just stay to the right side of the road, so that faster cyclists can pass you on the left.  This also means, that suddenly stopping and pulling out a tourist map in the middle of the bike lane is not a good idea.  One local, said that Danes are notorious for yelling at tourists who do this, but then said with a wry grin that it's usually in Danish so they can't understand.  I was fortunate enough to make it through cycling in Denmark without getting yelled at, but they have a point.   It is the equivalent of stopping your car in the middle of the street to pull out a map, without pulling over, which I wouldn't be so happy about either.

4) Cycling in Denmark:  Bikes are Allowed on The Trains
Denmark does an exceptional job of encouraging people to cycle so it's no surprise that bikes are allowed on the trains.  As of January 2010 there is no charge to bring your bike on the train around Copenhagen as there previously was, but bikes are only not allowed on trains during peak times.  See:  Cycling in Denmark:  Free to Bring Bike on Train for current info.
These brand new bikes are available for short term rentals in Odense

5) Cycling in Denmark:  Free Bikes in Copenhagen
A small deposit will get you a free bike in central Copenhagen.  Pick up/drop off is at over 100 locations in the city.  The free bike service in Copenhagen is available mid April to November.  See:  Cycling in Denmark:  Free City Bikes for more info.  Bike rentals are also another option and are usually reasonably priced.  The City of Odense provides two bike rental options.  One for just a couple of hours of use with numerous pick up/drop off locations and another one for multiple days use.  Bike rentals can easily be found throughout Denmark, including many tourist offices, private companies and hotels.  See:  Cycling in Denmark:  Bike Rentals for a partial list.

You may also be interested in:
My Top Ten Experiences in Denmark
 Top 10 Things to Experience in Odense Denmark
The Tinderbox, Where Children's Dreams Come to Life in Denmark

For more information on cycling in Denmark see:

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11 Comments:

At November 11, 2010 at 10:22 PM , Anonymous A Tramp Abroad said...

Great post! I am always a big chicken when it comes to cycling in other countries - probably because I'm clumsy even under circumstances I am well familiar with. So many of these rules are hard to work out for yourself - if I'm ever in Denmark I might just be brave enough to try it after reading this post!

 
At November 12, 2010 at 7:15 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

Thanks A Tramp Abroad. Cycling in Denmark is so much fun, I hope you have the chance to do it. If you`re really worried, you could start in smaller streets that are less crowded :)

 
At November 12, 2010 at 8:52 AM , Blogger Italian Notes said...

Brava - You have become really proficient in Danish biking rules. I esp like no 3 and the one about not stopping without making the proper stop sign (hand up). It causes such nasty accident pools (Believe me, I've tried it:)

 
At November 12, 2010 at 4:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. It'd be nice to see cycling be such a big part of day to day life in North American cities. I'd be a bit nervous with that many people biking around me, but it beats having to compete with cars!

 
At November 12, 2010 at 11:02 PM , Anonymous Devin the Travel Writer said...

I have taken one of those free bikes for a spin a couple of years ago. Just another good reason to love Denmark.

 
At November 14, 2010 at 2:06 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

Thanks Italian Notes, that means a lot, especially coming from a Dane! I've heard about some of the accidents (usually caused by tourists) from what I understand. It doesn't sound pretty.

Anonymous, as well as you know the hand signals, don't stop for no reason, and stay on the right until you get more comfortable, all will be good :)

Devin - very cool, I didn't get a chance to try one of the free bikes, but will definitely be heading back there for a bike trip at some point.

 
At November 16, 2010 at 5:47 PM , Anonymous Christy @ Ordinary Traveler said...

That's a lot of bikers!! I hope they have ample amount of bike lane space in Denmark. It's frustrating where I live because cyclists ride in the middle of the street and think they are a car. It's dangerous! :)

 
At November 17, 2010 at 7:15 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

I was really impressed, all the major streets have clearly marked bike lanes. I hear your problem, we have that where I live as well and it frustrates everyone.

 
At November 18, 2010 at 4:37 PM , Anonymous Ted said...

Copenhagen is cycling heaven, more so than Amsterdam or Groningen even. This is my favorite Copenhagen Cycling site http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/

 
At November 22, 2010 at 10:10 AM , Anonymous Cathy Sweeney said...

Great information and nice pics. It must have been such fun to cycle around Denmark, once you figured out the rules and how to bike safely there. Thanks to you, if I get to Denmark, I'll know what to do and watch out for.

 
At November 29, 2010 at 10:41 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

@Ted, thanks for sharing the link.
@Cathy - thanks, if you're ever in Denmark, cycling should be at the top of your list :)

 

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