Cycle tracks in Copenhagen

In lots of cities, including the one I live in, there is an ongoing discussion about whether bicycles lanes should be painted on the street or on the sidewalk.

If these are the only two options, I much prefer having a lane painted on the street, because car drivers can see me better and are less likely to run me down at intersections. Also I have a smoother ride and can go twice as fast because I don’t have to worry about running into stray pedestrians.

Separated by curbs from cars and pedestrians

Copenhagen, however, has a third option. On most of the main streets they have constructed cycle tracks that are higher than the street but lower than the sidewalk and separated from both by curbs. This is no doubt more expensive than just painting lines — but the cycle tracks are a good investment and are very cheap compared to the huge sums that are routinely spent on building roads for cars.

On a cycle track near the station

Since most of the main streets in Copenhagen now have cycle tracks, you don’t need a special bicycle map as in many other cities, since nearly every street is safe and convenient for cyclists.

Coming up onto the bridge (Knippelsbro) on the cycle path

A study commissioned by the city of Copenhagen found that the construction of cycle tracks has resulted in an 18-20% increase in bicycle traffic and a 9-10% decrease in car traffic on roads where cycle tracks have been constructed.

This one is even wider than usual

My photos on this page are from 2009. I revised the text in 2019.

See more cycling posts.
See more posts on Copenhagen, Denmark.

5 thoughts on “Cycle tracks in Copenhagen”

  1. During my brief visit to Toulouse, I thought it was pretty cool how the bike lanes on Pont Neuf were raised. Maybe I’ll start to see more of those as it appears the US is following Europe’s lead when it comes to creating more protected bike lanes. For instance, there’s not a green stripe, but a “carpet” painted on 40th Street in Oakland! Check out this article: https://bikeeastbay.org/supersharrows 🚲

    1. Thanks for the link. I just had a look and discovered that the “supersharrow” in Oakland is shared space, not a protected bike lane. I agree with someone quoted in the article that the paint should be used for bike only spaces — or, I would add, for intersections where cyclists are endangered by right-turning motor vehicles. I’ll post some photos soon showing how Copenhagen does this. (But I’m glad to see that Oakland is at least starting to accommodate bikes. I once lived in Oakland for a few months, and did not find it at all bike friendly at the time.)

      1. True, the green lane on that street is meant to be shared. But it’s confusing for me so, to be safe, I treat it like a protected lane! I drive only to the left of it and I’m super cautious when turning right. I look forward to more photos of Copenhagen; by the way, I had read about its Orange Skyway and I’m curious to know: have you been on it?

  2. This is much nicer than just paint for bike lanes, especially when the intersections are handled correctly as in Copenhagen. And I agree about how cost effective it is compared to building or widening roads. Lots of US cities are now doing a pretty good job with painted bike lanes, like the town I live in. Experienced cyclists can get around safely on these, but bicycle usage for transportation remains low. I think well-designed protected bike lanes are needed to get the kind of spectacular bike levels like Copenhagen has.

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