Danes Bike – Come Snow or Shine

| December 4, 2012

Elisabeth Frederiksen, 52, bikes 27 kilometres per day and is an unflinching cyclist who sticks to the cycle tracks almost all year round. When asked why she does not let the cold winter months stop her from taking her daily bike ride, she answers, ‘Because I cannot do without it.’

By Mai-Britt Kristensen, Danish Cyclists’ Federation

Denmark is famous for its bicycle culture. However, one of the questions often posed by foreign visitors is: What happens in winter? Do the Danes stop cycling? The Danish National Travel Survey (TU) has taken the pulse of the Danish Bicycle Culture and gives part of the answer.

Bike trips make up 17% of all individual trips, but the TU does show clear seasonal fluctuations. On average, every Dane bikes 40% less in each of the three winter months than the rest of the year. But they do still bike.[1]

According to PhD in Traffic Sociology, and Research Consultant at the Danish Cyclists’ Federation, Anette Jerup Jørgensen, ‘The bike is the primary means of transport for many Danes and is associated with freedom and flexibility. Therefore, the weather is not perceived as a hindrance. The advantages of cycling simply outweigh the hassles of cycling in the rain or snow.’

Elisabeth Frederiksen agrees: ‘The bike ride gives me time to mentally leave my job behind and focus on the things I want to do when I get home. And then it gives me energy and rosy cheeks, you know,’ she adds with a smile.

Winter cyclists steadfastly moving along the Copenhagen cycle tracks on a snowy afternoon. Photo: Danish Cyclists’ Federation/Andreas Hammershøj

But whether or not people keep cycling regardless of the weather is also linked to the infrastructure and, not least, the maintenance of it during the winter season. Elisabeth does draw the line in some cases: ‘Ice on the road will stop me. I just don’t feel safe. But the cold doesn’t bother me – especially not since I invested in proper gear such as over trousers.’

The City of Copenhagen is well aware that snow clearance is key to keeping people on bikes in winter. In fact, in 2012, the city increased the annual budget for snow clearance on the cycle tracks by DKK 2 million (EUR 270.000) a year. Although some Copenhageners still leave their bike at home, 80% do keep cycling through the winter months.[2]

For further info on cycling in Denmark please visit www.cycling-embassy.org.

What is TU?

TU is the Danish National Travel Survey, which analyses the Danes’ transport behaviour. The survey has been administered on a regular basis since 1992 and is the best source for analysing people’s transport habits in Denmark today.

Read more about TU at http://www.dtu.dk/centre/Modelcenter/English/TU.aspx.

Other TU Facts:

On average, Danes aged 10-84 years make 0.49 bike trips per day with an average distance of 2.98 kilometres per trip. This corresponds to 1.45 kilometres per person per day.

The larger the city they live in, the more a Dane will bike. In the small and medium-sized cities, people bike half as much as the Copenhageners who, on average, bike 2.7 km/person/day. Still, the citizens of other major Danish cycle cities, such as Odense and Aarhus, bike 2.3 and 2.0 km/person/day, respectively.

[1] Source: The Danish National Travel Survey (TU)

[2] The City of Copenhagen’s Bicycle Strategy 2011-2025.

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Category: Maintenance, Newsletter 9

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