Cycling rules in Denmark
Last updated on 13.02.2020.
Known for its great cycling culture, cycling rules in Denmark are quite strict, which is part of the reason why cycling is enjoyed by so many people there.
We can’t take responsibility for you not knowing or respecting national cycling rules in Denmark and cycling rules in Copenhagen, so please get informed before you saddle up. Below we summarised the most important aspects to consider, but keep in mind that our interpretation of the cycling rules in Denmark does not represent the letter of the law.
Cycling rules in Denmark: what your bike needs to have
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: what you need to keep in mind
KEEP RIGHT | In Denmark, everyone must drive on the right-hand side of the roadway. This applies for the bike path too, keep to the right. If there is no bike path, you must ride on the right side of the road, keeping to the right. Never ride your bike against the traffic flow.
PEDESTRIANS | You are not allowed to ride your bike in a pedestrian area, on sidewalks or on a pedestrian crossing.
TRAFFIC LIGHTS | 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.
TURNING LEFT AT AN INTERSECTION | keep riding on the right through the intersection while signalling 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. See an illustration here
BUS STOPS | If a bus stops at a bus stop, you need to stop and wait until the bus doors are closed. Bus passengers who cross the cycle path in or out of the bus have priority unless there is a pedestrian island between the bus and the bike path. Read more here
HANDS AND FEET | When cycling in Denmark, you must always have both feet on the pedals and at least one hand on the handlebars
NO PHONES AND NO DRUNK DRIVING | You are not allowed to talk on your phone while you are cycling in Denmark. And of course, 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.
Additional cycling rules in Denmark:
- Bike paths are only for cycling, so if you want to walk alongside your bike, you must get off the bike lane.
- You must ride with both lights on during dark hours, as well as during daytime if the visibility is not optimal.
- You are not allowed to carry another person on a one-person bike unless it’s a child in a child seat.
- 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 wide enough to allow someone from behind to overtake you.
For not respecting any of the above cycling rules in Denmark, you can get a hefty fine of 700 to 1500 DKK fine, as well as risk yours and others’ safety.
Cycling rules in Denmark: Hand signals
You may wonder how cyclists get around without much confusion or accidents. Apart from eye contact with each other, a huge part of cycling rules in Copenhagen include being familiar with 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 the cycling rules in Denmark, 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 clicks. Double check to make sure it stays locked.
- 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!