Biking in Denmark
When I first arrived in Denmark from India, I knew how to ride a bike but had never dared to cruise on the chaotic busy streets of Mumbai. Little did I know how big a part of my life cycling would become.
"Danes are practically born on a bike"
When I first arrived in Denmark from India, I knew how to ride a bike but had never dared to cruise on the chaotic busy streets of Mumbai. Little did I know how big a part of my life cycling would become. Now I hardly go anywhere here in Herning without my bike.
Danish cycling culture is as old as the bicycle itself and is deeply ingrained in the way of life. Statistics state that 9 out of 10 Danes own a bike, which makes sense as commuting by bike is usually the fastest, healthiest and most environment friendly way to get around the Danish cities. As a student it is also by far the cheapest.
“How do I get one?”
Well, you have 2 main choices, either a brand-new bike or to buy a used one. I would recommend the latter.
- NEW- The most obvious option would be to simply look up ‘bike stores nearby’ on the internet and go and buy a new one. (An average new bike will cost you at least 1500kr up to 6000kr depending on the quality.)
- USED- Here you have a few options, where the price is significantly lower (on average the price would be slightly under 1000kr). A few of the popular and effective ones are namely:
Facebook marketplace/ Facebook groups: I have a few classmates who have been lucky to find some extremely good
- deals on the Fb Marketplace as well as local Fb groups of internationals where they sell their bikes cheap when leaving Denmark.
- Websites such as http://www.guloggratis.dk/ and http://www.dba.dk/: They are both popular sites used by locals to sell secondhand bikes privately.
- Police auctions: Some communes including Aarhus auction bicycles from the “lost and found” for cheap prices.
- Personal or institutional networking: A good way to find an opportunity for a cheap bike is simply to ask around. Whether it be new friends or work/university peers.
- “Renting a bike”: There is opportunity for renting bikes, which can be a viable and easy solution for the short term. A good example would be https://swapfiets.dk/ .
“My Local Bicycle Man”
I had just moved to Herning, close to the central part of the city which is a few kilometers away from AU’s campus. I found out early on that cycling was the way to go. All it took was looking at the expense of a single week of public transport. Early in the semester I happened to be exploring the university main campus building and stumbled across a pamphlet on an information wallboard that said “For sale of used bikes and bike repairs call this number”
I remember thinking ‘Why not? Might as well give it a shot.’ So, I called the number and it turned out to be one of my better decisions. I ended up buying admittedly not the prettiest, but a perfectly functional bike for 500kr. He assured me that if there were any problems, to give him a call. I biked home thinking it was too good to be true and I still think that.
On a busy morning months later, on my way to university my back tire punctured. Realizing a punctured tire wasn’t my expertise I gave my bike man a call. He luckily happened to be driving in the area and to my surprise offered to pick up, fix and drop off my bike later that day. Knowing how expensive services can be in Denmark, I expressed my concern to him. To my relief he offered me more than a reasonable price. My advice being: Find a trustworthy person/store that is cheap to fix/repair your bike because that time might come, especially if you use the bike regularly.
Things to look out for: Traffic rules apply for bikes as well as cars in Denmark.
- Use the bike path and if there isn’t one drive on the right side of the road.
- Lights: When its dark or foggy outside front and rear lights are mandatory.
- Reflectors: Always required on the front, rear, pedals and wheels.
- Requires a Functioning bell.
- Requires a functioning brake
- Alcohol rules apply to cyclists as well.
- Cycling with another person on the back is illegal.
- Using hand gestures when turning/stopping.
- Here’s a link for a more detailed information on the rules. https://www.vejle.dk/welcome-to-vejle/getting-started-in-vejle/how-to-bike-in-denmark/
Tips and tricks:
- Helmets: Although not mandatory, it provides extra safety!
- Check the weather: Your biking experience can be severely affected by wind, rain, snow and hail. No harm checking the weather app the night before an early morning ride!
- Always lock your bike! Although Denmark is a safe and relatively crime-free place bikes do get stolen. To prevent your bike getting stolen always lock it to something sturdy. (I usually lock my bike to the cycle stands that are present almost everywhere)
- Don’t bike on pedestrian pathways and keep an eye on the signs!
- Bikes in public transport: You can bring your bike on public transport such as letban/trains (not buses). Keep an eye out as there is usually an extra fee/ticket when travelling with bike, as well as other restrictions depending on the time of day.
- When buying a used bike: I would suggest buying a simple one as the expensive ones may require expensive repairs. I don’t know a great deal about bikes but would bring awareness to check, the extent of rust on the bike, bearing in the wheels and crank, presence of all the necessary requirements (brakes, gear, chain, wheels etc.)
- Bike locks, lights, bells are not relatively expensive.
Being able to bike in Denmark opens a world of opportunities and freedom.
Do as the Vikings and hope on your ´Jernhest` (Iron horse, aka Bike in Denmark)
Happy cycling everyone!