Every day, Copenhageners travel 660,000 kilometres by metro, but cycle 1.31 million kilometres - almost double the amount. Maybe that’s why biking lanes in Melbourne in Australia are called ‘Copenhagen lanes’.
Copenhagen bicycle tracks and lanes are almost 400 kilometres in total. With more than one third of the population of Copenhagen commuting by bike daily, they bike a total of 1.31 million kilometres - every day.
The International Cycling Union, UCI, appointed Copenhagen to be the first official Bike City in the world from 2008-2011.
The Copenhagen City Bike
The City Bike is synonymous with Copenhagen. In fact, the official gift from The City of Copenhagen to American president Bill Clinton when he visited Copenhagen in 1997 was a specially designed city bike called 'City Bike One'. The new 2013 edition of the Copenhagen City Bike is an intelligent bike with special features such as a touchscreen tablet and built-in GPS, making it easy to get around the city. The City bikes are available for rent 24/7, 365 days a year for only DKK 25 per hour. Right now, you will find 50 city bikes all around Copenhagen. From end March 2014, 250 more are to be found and in August 2014, all 2,000 city bikes will be taken into use.
Middle class families and top politicians
Though cycling is the cheapest means of transportation next to walking, Copenhageners love their bikes no matter their financial situation. Many middle class families with kids in Copenhagen don't even own a car. They use their bikes to commute to work, bring the kids to kindergarten etc. In fact, 25 percent of all families with two kids in Copenhagen own a cargo bike.
Even top politicians ride their bike every day to the Parliament. A majority (63 percent) of the members of the Danish Parliament, located at Christiansborg Castle in the middle of Copenhagen, commute by bike.
As a first time visitor in Copenhagen, the amount of bicycles on the streets can be overwhelming. However, you will soon realise that life in Copenhagen is based on bicycles as a very important means of transportation.
With almost 400 kilometres of bicycle tracks and lanes and traffic lights made especially for bikes, the city's infrastructure is built on the fact that a bicycle is not only the cheapest, healthiest and fastest way to get around the city, it is also a very important factor in reducing carbon emissions. Therefore, bicycle culture is a vital part of the city administration’s ambition to become the first carbon neutral capital in the world by 2025.
With more than one third of the population in Copenhagen commuting daily by bike, cities around the world looking to Copenhagen for inspiration on how to increase the use of bicycles as a means of transportation. Biking is mutually beneficial. Bikers save money, exercise and spare the environment for CO2 emission. Reasons to promote cycling are numerous.
Copenhagen’s ambitious goal for 2015 is that 50 percent of all people working in Copenhagen will commute by bike according to the City of Copenhagen's environmental plan, ECO-METROPOLE - OUR VISION FOR COPENHAGEN 2015, which together with other green initiatives works towards making Copenhagen the world's best biking city. The latest result (from 2013) shows that 43 percent of all people working in Copenhagen commute by bike.
Around the world, Copenhagenizing has now become a phenomenon in the process of getting more people to leave the car at home and take the bike instead.
Green light for cyclists
There are only a few places in the world where you will find traffic lights specifically for cyclists. In Copenhagen, you will see the miniature traffic lights in many places, especially at heavily trafficked crossroads. The clearly marked blue bike lanes also increase traffic safety for the cyclists.
To increase safety and ensure a safe and smooth passage through traffic for the massive amount of cyclists and their fellow road-users, the Danish government has introduced heavier fines for violating traffic laws, which means that cyclists now will be fined DKK 1,000 to cross against a red light and DKK 700 for biking on the pavement or biking without lights on at night.