Danish cycling rules

Denmark is known for a great cycling culture, but also for strict cycling rules, which is part of the reason why biking is enjoyed by so many people there. While it’s not mandatory to wear a bike helmet in Denmark, there are other requirements your bike must meet and rules you must obey (yes, even when there’s no one around).

We can’t take responsibility for you not knowing or respecting national cycling rules, so please get informed before saddling up. Below we summarised the most important aspects to consider when biking in Denmark, but keep in mind that our interpretation of the rules does not represent the letter of the law.

Bike requirements in Denmark

LIGHTS | You must have one white light pointing straight forward and one red one pointing straight back on your bike. When used, they need to be fixed on the bike and can’t hang or dangle. Both head-light and tail-light must be clearly visible from at least 300 meters away, as well as from the side. You are required to carry lights at all times during the day, even if you’re not using them.

REFLECTORS | Your bike must have reflectors, generally on the wheels, on the pedals and on the frame – similar to the lights, there’s a front-facing white reflector and a rear-facing red one. As with the lights, your bike needs to always have reflectors, not only during nighttime.

BELL You must have a functioning bike bell mounted on the handlebar.

BRAKES | Your bike needs to have functioning brakes on both wheels – either two handbrakes or one handbrake and one back pedal brake.

For lacking any of the items above, as well as if they don’t work properly, you can get a 700 DKK fine. So check that your bike is well-equipped before you start your ride.

HELMET | wearing a helmet while riding is not mandatory.

Cycling rules in Denmark

  • In Denmark, everyone must drive on the right-hand side of the roadway. Never ride your bike against the traffic flow.
  • You are not allowed ride your bike in a pedestrian area, on sidewalks or on a pedestrian crossing.  If there is no bike path, you must ride on the right side of the road, keeping to the right.
  • Similarly, bike paths are only for cycling, so if you want to walk alongside your bike, you must get off the bike lane.
  • Obey the red light at intersections even when you’re on a bike. If there are no cycle traffic lights at the road junction, follow the car traffic lights, not the pedestrian ones.
  • When you want to turn left at an intersection, you need to follow these steps: keep riding on the right through the intersection while signaling with your raised hand that you’re stopping; stop at the corner of the street you want to join and wait with the traffic on the right-hand side for the green light to proceed in your new direction.
  • You must ride with both lights on during dark hours, as well as during daytime if the visibility is not optimal.
  • If a bus stops at a bus stop, you need to stop and wait until the bus doors close. Bus passengers who cross the cycle path in or out of the bus have priority, unless there is a bus island on the left of the bike path.
  • When riding your bike you must always have both feet on the pedals and at least one hand on the handlebars.
  • You are not allowed to carry another person on a one-person bike, unless it’s a child in a child seat.
  • You are not allowed to talk on your phone while you cycle.
  • While riding, you are not allowed to hold onto another vehicle or to the driver or passenger of another vehicle.
  • Avoid riding side by side with your friend if the bike lane isn’t large enough to allow someone from behind to overtake you.
  • You are not allowed to ride a bike if you are drunk. While there is no legal limit for the alcohol volume accepted when riding a bike and you can’t lose your driver’s license for drunk bike riding, the police can decide if you are not able to ride safely and give you a 1500 DKK fine.

For not respecting any of the other rules listed above, you can get a 700 to 1500 DKK fine, as well as risk yours and others’ lives.

Hand signals

You must always use hand signals to communicate your intent to other drivers/riders:

STOPPING | Extend either arm upwards.

TURNING RIGHT | Extend the right arm perpendicularly to the body.

TURNING LEFT | Extend the left arm perpendicularly to the body.

Here is an easy and funny video that explains all the rules in 4 minutes.

Donkey Republic rules

  • You must always lock your bike when parking it, be it during your rental period or at the end. You lock your bike by pushing down the lock handle until it beeps. Double check to make sure it stays locked.
  • For extra security, use the chain that comes with every Donkey bike and chain the bike to a fixed object, such as a street lamp post.
  • During your rental period, you can take and park your bike wherever you want. However, at the end of your rental you must return the bike to an available drop-off location. After parking and locking the bike, remember to open the Donkey app and click END RENTAL.
  • Have fun exploring the city on two wheels!

Want to rent a bike in Denmark?

Check where you can rent and unlock a bike with your phone in the Donkey Republic app