Site icon The Carbon Crisis

9.6 Transportation: Bikes in Copenhagen

Author: Sandra Sirak

ABSTRACT: Thinking creatively when it comes to transportation can have a massive effect on our carbon outlet. Looking at Copenhagen, we see how bikes as a tool of transportation is being prioritized by the capital which has resulted in bikes being an efficient transportation tool for citizens at all ages.

Copenhagen bike lanes.


Copenhagen has made itself noticeable by the creation of the 2025 climate plan operating by four different pillars:

Focusing on mobility, Copenhagen heavily invests in transportation, not for cars as one might think at first, but investments to improve the bicycle experience; little by little creating what we see as an already very efficient and more climate friendly way of transportation. The Cycle Track Priority Plan 2017-2025 promises further investment in bike transportation for the establishment of 40 to 50 km new cycle tracks, 30 to 40 km of Green routes, and no less than 62 km of cycle superhighway.

Figure 1: Overview of cycle related investment. The Bicycle Account 2018


Cycle superhighway

One of the great initiatives made to improve bicycle conditions is the cycle superhighway. With its current 11.6 km long route, it is making it possible to cross the city partly away from car traffic and much faster than before. The route was started in 2012 and has been a huge success among Copenhageners. Research done by “The Bicycle Account 2018” shows the increase in cyclists after the construction of the cycle superhighway is approximately 23%, where 14% of the new cyclists are former drivers. The highway is estimated to be fully done in 2021.

Figure 2 Cycle superhighway crossing from ‘Vesterbro’ to the island ‘Amager’ in Copenhagen. (Image: Rasmus Hjorthoj-COAST Studio)

Green Routes

Green cycle routes are constructed in the City of Copenhagen, taking you from one urban area to another in peaceful green surroundings. With 49% of all trips done by bike to work or school, which is an increase from the 35% just ten years ago. The green routes are safer alternatives to main roads for example for families. As shown in the image below, the Green routes are creating a transportation network in Copenhagen, connecting the different areas with cycle routes. The darker green colour illustrates the already existing routes, where the lighter green represents the Green routes which is yet to be constructed.

Figure 3 Green route overview in Copenhagen.

Safety measures

With its approximately 632,300 inhabitants and approximately 675,000 bikes, safety measures are to be taken seriously. By investing in reconstructing roads, making bicycle tracks wider, and changing roads by traffic lights to prevent right-turn accidents and avoid injury to cyclists. Furthermore, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development International Transport Forum states that Copenhagen has the lowest risk of cyclist fatalities based on research done of 30 big cities in Europe and USA. The image below shows an example of how safety measures have been improved by traffic lights with a special signal for cyclists to increase cyclist safety at intersections.

Figure 4 Traffic light with special signal for cyclists and bike lanes placed in front of cars and therefore visible to avoid accidents. (Image: Cycling Embassy of Denmark).

Transportation flexibility & health

Constructing new routes for bikes is not the only investment the City of Copenhagen has made, as they also invested in their employees to change transportation habits and reduce their carbon footprint. An example is the department of Technical and Environmental Administration, with its 2,500 employees the department has invested in campaigns, overall better facilities for biking, in the purchase of e-bikes, and cut of taxi vouchers for employees.

An example I personally see daily are the parking enforcement officers who have swapped their cars for a more climate friendly option – e-bikes. The e-bike allows them to navigate around the city a lot smoother, than by car, while taking up less space at the same time. These changes of internal transportation among employees in the Technical and Environmental Administration have made it possible to reduce the carbon transport emissions with 177 tons a year from 2009-2016.

Furthermore, the wide range of bike share and bike rental options the city provides offer freedom to its visitors as well as citizens. This also impact the traffic congestion that could be decreased by 6%. The well-functioning bicycle culture is therefore beneficial for the climate, as the cyclists in Copenhagen reduce the carbon emissions by 110,000 tons per year.

“Cycling reduces carbon emissions by 110,000 tonnes per year. If the residents of the Capital Region did not cycle, an additional 96,000 tonnes of CO2 would be emitted from cars, 6,000 tonnes from trains and 8,000 tonnes from buses. Cycling also helps to reduce emissions of harmful particles and nitrogen oxides.” (Capital Region of Denmark, regional cyclist report)

Yet we are not to forget the health benefit of biking, as research shows that 30 minutes of biking daily reduce mortality by 30%. The number of daily cyclists in Copenhagen also have an effect on the residents’ total sick days. An analysis done by Confederation of Danish Industry states that 10% of improvement in commuter health will mean about 109,000 fewer sick days yearly and around 1.1 billion DKK saved in the public health care system.


Capital Region of Denmark. (2020). Regional Cycling Report. Retrieved from:

City of Copenhagen. (2019). The Bicycle Account 2018: Copenhagen City of Cyclists. Retrieved from: Document:

Confederation of Danish Industry (DI). (2018). More cycling will result in fewer sick days. Retrieved from:

Craig, H. (2022). Image: Copenhagen Bike Lanes from Copenhagen Bike Rental City & Green Cycle Routes Copenhagen. Retrieved from

Cycling Embassy of Denmark. (2017). New Bicycle Track Priority Plan for Copenhagen. Retrieved from:

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2020). Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Retrieved from:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. (2022). A nation of cyclists. Retrieved from Denmark.DK:

Visit Copenhagen. (2022). Biking in Copenhagen. Retrieved from:

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