As you might have noticed when you arrived in Denmark, it is a biking country! Both for sport and exercise, but Danes also use their bike as a means of transportation. Maybe you would also like to bike in Denmark?
Below we have gathered the rules of biking in Danmark and also added som tips. It is also possible to get the information as a printed flyer.
10 general rules for biking in Denmark
- Everyone must drive on the right-hand side of the roadway.
- Avoid riding side-by-side with your friend if the bike lane is not large enough to allow someone from behind to safely pass both of you.
- Never ride your bike against the flow of traffic.
- It is illegal to bike in any pedestrian area, including in pedestrian crossings, or on the sidewalk.
- If you want to walk alongside your bike, you must walk on the pavement.
- You are only allowed to carry another person on a one-person bike if it is a child in a child seat.
- When riding your bike you must always have both feet on the pedals and at least one hand on the handlebars.
- Talking on your mobile phone is prohibited while riding your bike.
- You are not allowed to hold onto another vehicle or to the driver or passenger of another vehicle while riding your bike.
- If a police officer stops you for riding your bike while intoxicated the fine is 1500 DKK.
Always use hand signals in order to show your intent to other drivers, when riding your bike.
When turning left, extend your left arm perpendicular* to your body
When turning right, extend your right arm perpendicular to your body
When stopping, raise your left hand shortly before you come to a standstill
*) Perpendicular: Extend your left arm straight out from your body.
Be aware of cars turning right
Two thirds of all serious bike accidents occur in intersections. The accidents often occur when a car is turning and the driver fails to notice a bike rider who is going straight through the intersection.
Spend an extra moment to orient yourself in the intersection and try to get eye contact with the driver before you bike, to avoid any possible accidents.
Traffic lights in a typical Danish intersection
Often bike lanes have their own dedicated traffic lights at the intersection, but if they do not, you must use the car traffic lights for direction.
Danish traffic lights have three different colors:
Green: You can bike straight ahead in the intersection; however, you should pay attention to pedestrians and cars turning right.
Yellow: As a general rule, when the light changes to yellow you should attempt to stop, while using the corresponding hand signal listed before. However if stopping for the yellow light endangers yourself, other cyclists, or other pedestrians you may continue through the intersection instead of coming to a standstill.
Red: The red traffic light means stop and you must stop by signaling with you left hand above your shoulder.
Turning right at green lights in the intersection
You must visibly show that you will turn before you start turning. If you are waiting at the intersection due to a red light, you must show that you will turn right when you start riding your bike again by using the right turn hand signal (see the signal above).
NOTE: It is illegal to turn right at a red light.
Turning left in the intersection
Drive straight ahead, staying in the right side of the road, through the intersection, while the light is green.
Show visibly, with your raised left hand that you are stopping and position yourself into the perpendicular road, while making sure not to block other bike traffic continuing through the intersection from your original direction.
Make a brief stop at the corner of the street you want to join and position yourself facing forward. If there are vehicles or bikes that are going straight ahead, you must wait for the traffic light to turn red or until the road is free.
What to do in a roundabout
When entering a roundabout, you do not have to signal that you are going right. However, you must yield other road users already inside the roundabout before entering.
When exiting the roundabout, you must signal by extending your right arm perpendicularly to the body.
Three different situations when you are passing a bus stop on your bike
When the bus stops directly at the sidewalk: look backwards and, if there is no traffic, you may pass the bus on the left side.
a) When the bus stops directly at the bike lane: If you see, the bus is dropping people off or people are stepping out on the bike lane in order to get on the bus, you must stop behind the bus and wait until the bus moves again.
b) When the bus stops at a small bus island between the road and the bike lane: Continue driving but slow down a bit and pay attention to the bus passengers on the bus island and on the sidewalk, in case somebody steps out in front of you.
Wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of serious head injuries by approx. 70 %
Here is a small guide on how to wear your helmet correctly:
- The helmet must cover the forehead, temples and the back of the head.
- Place the helmet so it is level from front to back and that the space between the front of the helmet and your eyebrows is 2-3 centimeters.
- Make sure that the helmet is not too loose by adjusting the strap so you only can fit two fingers between the strap and the chin.
Are your bike lights powerful enough?
According to Danish law, you must ride with both front and back lights on from dusk to dawn, as well as during daytime in case of thick weather conditions such as fog or heavy snowfall. Fauilure to do so is illegal.
- A bike with two wheels must have at least one front light and one tail light.
- The front light can give off a yellow, white or blue glow. While the tail light must give off a red glow.
- Both front light and tail light must be clearly visible from at least 300 meters away.
- If you have blinking lights, they cannot give off a yellow glow and must blink at least 120 times per minute.
- The lights must be visible from the side and must not be overly sharp.
- The lights must be fixed on the bike and cannot be carried by the rider.
- Ask at the bike shop for lights that live up to the law.
Five things you must have on your bike and a recommendation
Reflectors: The bike must have reflectors on the pedals, on the wheels, and on the frame with a white reflector facing the front and a red reflector facing the rear.
Lights: The bike must have a front light and a tail light fixed to the bike.
Bell: The bike must have a functioning bell fixed to the handlebar.
Brakes: The bike must have either two hand brakes or a back pedal brake in combination with a hand brake.
Bike lock: The bike must be locked, when you leave your bike according to the law. Insurance companies also require that the bike lock is „Varefakta“ approved. Ask at the bike shop.
Helmet: We strongly recommend that you wear a helmet while riding your bike and set a good example for your children to do so as well.
How to be a respectful bike rider in Denmark
- Be vigilant in the traffic – For example, do not use ear plugs, while biking.
- Do not stress, while you are biking – Allowing you to stay calm and considerate in traffic.
- Look backwards before you pass fellow bike riders.
- Drive on the right-hand side of the bike lane – so there is space for your fellow bike riders to pass you
- Always show your intent to other riders by clearly signaling when you want to turn or stop.
- Avoid driving in front of your fellow bike riders who are at a standstill waiting for green at traffic lights.
- Respect pedestrians – walk alongside your bike in the pedestrian crossings and do not bike on the sidewalks.
- Keep your eyes and ears open – Do not bike with loud music in your headphones or with hoods that limit your view.
- Consider the circumstances and bike accordingly – It is not a right to drive as quickly as possible.
- Remember to enjoy - the nature, the fresh air and the free exercise.
The content of "How to bike in Denmark" has been composed based on information published on the website of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation.