Cycling in Denmark

My cycling trip to Rønde

My cycling trip to Rønde

Sorry for not updating for another long period of time. I was really busy with lab, and did some travelling in between. Basically, the Danish life and weather is so great and entertaining that you barely even need to stay on the Internet to have fun.

Denmark is one of the most cyclist-friendly country in the world. There are dedicated bike paths for cyclists on almost every major  road, and bike parking facilities can be found everywhere in populated urban and suburban areas alike. The suburban trains are equipped with bike holding facilities, making it possible for people to travel with their human-powered locomotive to other parts of the country without much hassle. Ironically, though, is that the intercity trains (IC and ICL) do not offer bike transport – which is an annoyance, to be true.

For starters, Denmark has around 10,000km of cycling routes. An average Dane cycles an average of 1.6km per day1, over his/her lifespan – yes, inclusive of the years when they are incapable of cycling.

Why cycle?

The sport of cycling unjustly suffers from unjustified fear2. Cycling itself carries a lot of benefits:

  • A Danish study in 2000 concluded that mortality rate decreases by 40% when people bicycle to work3
  • The mortality rate of cycling is lower than that of walking, per distance travelled.
  • Nine out of ten Danes own a bike4. Get a bike yourself or be socially awkward.
  • Instead of sharing the same road surface with a faster moving motor vehicles, Danish bike lanes are physically separated from roads by a curb, and they are sligthly raised above road level.

My experience

The very first thing I did after arriving in Denmark is to rent a bike from Studenterneshuset (eng: The Student’s House). Why cycle, you ask, when Denmark has a well-established network of urban/suburban transport? For my entire stay in Denmark – five months and counting – buses are never late. The only time my bus ran late was because after a snowstorm in February, and that’s pretty much it. The train rides are affordable and comfortable – youths and students who are holders of the DSB Wild Card get approximately 50% off train ticket prices. In addition, according to my personal experience of Interrailing in Europe, Denmark definitely wins, by a large margin, when it comes to comfort and punctuality.

I didn’t cycle much in winter because of the cold and the ice, but when the weather started warming up towards the end of March, I started cycling. Cycling in Denmark felt a lot safer than doing so in my home country Malaysia, probably because there are dedicated bike lanes in Denmark coupled with better road user awareness and responsible signalling by cyclists themselves. In Malaysia nobody gives a monkey about what happens around their car (please spare me the rhetorics that Malaysians are good drivers. They really are not) while in Singapore the battle between road users and cyclists for road space usage is still very much alive (and people usually think only the poor cycles in the island city).

I realized that cycling made me sensitive to even the slightest inclination of the road. A gentle slope is easily detectable when you’re a bike, so I grew to love routes that have the least elevation change. However, when I’m in the mood to be challenged, I’d take the bike on steeper roads. However, most cyclists in Aarhus will definitely be rewarded with a good workout whenever they travel downtown. The city center of Aarhus is built around a meandering river close to sea level elevation, while the rest of the suburban area lies in the hills rising behind the city core. Therefore, cycling to the Asian store in town to get my periodic fix of Asian food entails an intensive workout of cycling almost 75 meters up, back to my dorm.

I have clocked in almost 400km by simply cycling to and from my lab, and sometimes to town. I did make a cycling trip to Rønde, a quaint, picturesque little town to the northeast of Aarhus – it was almost 60km for the whole return trip, and my legs were sore the next morning, but the sights were simply too beautiful. Here are a few photos to show you. The photos are processed to look like scanned films.

In the middle of the road, underneath the blue Danish skies.

In the middle of the road, underneath the blue Danish skies.

Pylon and the sky.

Pylon and the sky.

My shoes, the hills, and the sky.

My shoes, the hills, and the sky.

  1. Danish Spaces
  2. Is Cycling Dangerous?
  3. Andersen et al. 2000. All-cause mortality associated with physical activity during leisure time, work, sports, and cycling to work. Arch Intern Med. 160(11): 1621-1628. Available online.
  4. Cycling Statistics from Denmark – Bicycles in Denmark

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