Cycling culture in Denmark

Simple Danish Newsletter #17

Hi friends,

As you may know, Danes are practically born on a bicycle. In fact, I think we might only be outdone by the Dutch, when it comes to how much we love bikes and biking (all kinds of it). But so for this week, we thought we’d talk a bit about cycling culture in Denmark.

Quick Stats and Facts
More than 80% of all Danes have a bike, and around 20% of the population use it daily (at least 5 days a week), mostly for commuting to school or work. Perhaps the stat that surprised me the most was that 56% of Danes cycle recreationally, as road cycling for exercise, mountain-biking, or just taking trips in the nice summer weather.

Copenhagen Cycling
Looking at statistics, Copenhagen is by far the most bicycle friendly city. There’s around 5 times more bikes than cars, and it shows if you visit the city and see it during rush-hour. But I am also not surprised, as cycling the city is so much faster than driving a car or public transport.

Another type of trip that is very common in Copenhagen is combination trips, where you bring your bike in the train and then cycle to your final destination. This especially goes for the S-trains, where you can bring your bike for free and store it in their large, dedicated bicycle wagons.

You’ll find a few unique pieces of bike-tailed infrastructure around Denmark; from dedicated bicycle bridges across the canals, to trash-cans that are tilted so they are easy to hit from a bike, or the small handlebars near stop lights you can grab onto, and put your foot on, so you can stop your bike with ease. Copenhagen has also been good at prioritizing building long, green, un-interupted bicycle paths through the city that make it very fast to get from A to B.

Cycling Lifestyle
Most trips where made as commutes to and from work or school. So what about families with kids, what can they do? Well, if you go to Denmark, I think you will be surprised at the amount of cargo bikes hauling families, dogs and groceries throughout the city. More and more young families are ditching the car completely and going for electric cargo bikes instead to get the whole family + gear to their destinations. The electric bike segment is also one that is growing fast, and I think that makes sense. If your commute is 15+ km then it is hard to arrive by bike, without being all sweaty, and so electric bikes come in handy if you don’t want to buy a car.

A lot of people are also surprised at how many kids cycle on their own. When I was a kid, I started cycling to school and to all of my after school activities alone, from around the 3rd grade, but many start even earlier.

Road cycling
Danes are obsessed with road cycling, and we have been for some time, but more recently, Jonas Vingegaard who has won the Tour De France two years in a row, has gotten the whole country in a cycling frenzy. Road bikes, gravel bikes, mountain bikes, you name it. Exercising on bike is bike is becoming more and more popular each year. Antonina and I are no exceptions – we went bikepacking last year, and cycled through Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein and Germany.

Top Routes in Denmark
If you want to go cycling yourself in Denmark, you can look at routes visit Denmarks website here (The official website for the National cycling routes is ruter.dk but it is very buggy and slow loading). We can also highly recommend doing some of the EuroVelo routes, perhaps with Denmark as a start or final destination.

Do’s and Don’ts Cycling in Denmark
You should 100% go cycling if you are in Denmark. But if you do, just remember, you are in traffic and Denmark has a lot of Jonas Vingegaard wannabes that are trying to go very fast (those electric cargo bikes are also not slow..!). Tourists on bikes often get a bad reputation in Denmark, because they treat going on the bike like going for a stroll, and not like driving a car.

The number one recommendation I can make is to be predictable. That means using signals to indicate where you are going, and when you are stopping (and signaling well in advance). If you are cycling on a wide bicycle path, also make sure you stick to the right side, so others have room to overtake you. If you do that you’ll be fine.

❤️ Our Favourite things

Music with Danish lyrics we’re listening to

Music can be a great way to learn Danish. If you find a catchy song or an artist you like, listening to their songs and looking at or learning the lyrics can be a great way to learn some new vocabulary and to practice your listening as well as pronunciation skills. We initially thought of sharing a song or artist per week, but we realized that it would be much too slow, and as all of your tastes are different you might have to wait many weeks before you found an artist you liked. So to speed up the process we have created a playlist, with only Danish lyrics on Spotify that you can browse for inspiration! It is quite a mess, so I don’t expect you to fire it up during parties, but it is more of a catalogue for you to browse.

Have a listen!


Idiom of the week: jeg har ikke en rød reje 

Literally: I don’t have a red shrimp. It means you don’t have any money at all. I love this one, as it is just so weird 😅 It seems the phrase comes from the fact that older copper coins looked red, and shrimp could be seen as something small and insignificant. I have also found instances of the phrase: “jeg har ikke en rød øre” (øre referring to the denomination worth 0.01 krone, not an actual ear).

Here’s some examples:

A) vil du med i biografen i aften?

B) Det ville jeg gerne, men jeg har ikke en rød reje.

Or you can say:

  • Du får ikke en rød reje hvis du selv siger op, men hvis du bliver fyret har du din fratrædelsesordning.

Word of the week: Fyraften

Fyraften is a noun that refers to the time at the end of the day when you clock out / leave work.

For example:

A) Puha. Så blev det endelig fyraften.

B) Det må du nok sige 😅 Skal vi ud og have en fyraftensøl?

A) Det lyder godt!

That’s all we had for you for this week. Feel free to reply to this email with comments, suggestions or questions, as we read and reply to all emails 😊

Best regards,

Antonina & Rasmus

Denmark&Me

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