Cycling FAQ

| March 2, 2010

Seven answers to the matter of everyday cycling in Denmark.

How Do Children Learn to Ride a Bike?

Mom and dad. Most kids in Denmark ride a bike before they start school – anything else would be a bit embarrassing for the family. We don’t run school programs on how to ride a bike as we do on swimming. Instead we focus on building up good transport habits on traffic rules and safety. This is a great strength, but sometimes a problem for people who don’t grow up here, as they need attention not be excluded from this important part of Danish culture.

Is Cycling Mainly for Low Income Groups?

No. Cars are very pricy in Denmark, but average income is high, and most families have at least one car. Still, a lot of people choose to ride a bike on a regular basis. Riding a bike is something enjoyed by everybody – top leaders, Nobel Prize winners, and even the Danish crown prince rides a bike.

How Many People in Denmark Own a Bike?

Most people will tell you there are as many bikes as people. In reality, some have none and others have two – but most have one. It may stand in the back of the garage in unknown condition, but it’s there.

How Much Do the Danes Ride Their Bikes?

A lot. One in four trips shorter than five kilometers is done by bike. But that covers great variation between the big cities and the countryside. In cities like Copenhagen and Odense, the bicycle is the most common means of transport for people going to work or educational institutions.

What Do Danish Cyclists Do When It Rains?

We wear rain clothes. Of course, some cheat and take the bus or a taxi, but really stormy weather and big amounts of ice or snow are the only kinds of weather that don’t go along with cycling. Many Danish cyclists also ride a bike in the winter.

How Can We Get More People to Ride a Bike in Our Country?

Riding a bike is a choice. If you want more people to become cyclists, you must make it attractive to ride a bike. Make it safe, easy, fun, and economically attractive. Look at your infrastructure, your tax system, and hat
you teach your children at school. Last but not least: tell the cyclists that what they do is cool.

How Come so Many People Ride a Bike in Denmark?

We would love to tell you that the Danes are more idealistic than others – unfortunately we’re not. The Danes ride bikes because it is practical, easy, and makes their everyday lives work. No parking problems, no long traffic lines, no waiting for the bus. But for the vast majority of Danes, the benefits to health, environment, congestion, climate, and so forth, are certainly welcome side effects.

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