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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article22 November 20212 min read

Copenhagen’s cycle superhighways act as an inspiration to other regions

In Denmark’s Capital Region surrounding Copenhagen, 30 municipalities have joined forces to create ‘cycle superhighways’. These are innovative cycling infrastructure in the form of wide, straight, smooth cycle paths that are well-spaced from roads and cross roads as little as possible. Cycle superhighways cross municipal boundaries and stitch together the metropolitan region in order to facilitate long-distance cycling commutes.

For one resident of the region, Mie Allersted, access to a cycle superhighway means that she can traverse the 21 km from her home in Værløse, through another suburban town to her office in central Copenhagen in 50 minutes on her electric bicycle. The lack of traffic lights disrupting the superhighway means that she can cover the first two-thirds of her journey in the same amount of time as the final third, which is through the city centre. Having initially commuted by public transport, Allersted switched to biking one way and taking the train home. This has allowed her to use her commute as an opportunity to exercise, while taking about the same amount of time to travel.

Allersted’s adoption of the cycle superhighway is an example of the type of behaviour that the Office of Cycle Superhighway aimed to encourage when it established the initiative in 2009.  In aiming to fulfil its goal of having half of all commuters travelling by bicycle, the city of Copenhagen realised that there was a need to work with the surrounding municipalities. Hence, it began to coordinate cycle superhighways along arterial roads in 15 municipalities. The network has gained traction and has since grown to include 30 municipalities.

As of 2021 there are 174 km of cycle superhighways across nine routes with an eventual goal of 850 km of routes across the region. The Office considers long-distance cycling commuters to be those who travel between 5 and 30 km one-way, with the average distance being 11 km. The Office works to coordinate between municipalities that have different fiscal situations, as well as helping to secure funding from national government. This allows the continuity of the cycle route to be maintained in different contexts and be instantly recognisable by all users.

The cycle superhighway concept is spreading. Eastern Jutland on mainland Denmark began planning for a cycle superhighway in 2021 as did the Swedish region around the city of Malmö. In addition, there is talk of a European network of cycle superhighways. Copenhagen's initiative has also been credited with inspiring London’s cycle superhighways.



Publication date
22 November 2021
  • Walking and cycling
  • Denmark