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Green Cycling Routes

Cohesive network of long distance cycle and pedestrian routes

Grüne Radroute
Grüne Radroute © Thomas Möller

Copenhagen has had a long cycling tradition: since the first velocipedes were introduced in 1860, the bicycle became a widespread mean of transport, supported by the relatively short distances in the city and its flat terrain. Today, 36% of the population travel to work or school by bicycle, which is one of the highest percentages in the world. In numbers, this means 1,1 million kilometres are ridden on bicycle in Copenhagen every day. The objective of the ECO-METROPOLE, OUR VISION 2015 is to reach 50% by 2015, by the financing of numerous measures such as bicycle parking, green cycling routes, more bike lanes, more parking facilities and increasing traffic safety.

The concept of Green Cycle Routes

The Green Cycle Routes of Copenhagen are a cohesive network of long distance cycle and pedestrian routes through open, recreational areas such as parks and waterfront areas as well as along minor roads. The routes avoid roads with heavy traffic, crossing them safely and comfortably by means of bridges or special traffic signs and signals.

Green Cycle Routes in Copenhagen are intended to offer new possibilities to cyclists, particularly for those who have a long way to go. When possible, cycle routes run in their own separate area through green surroundings and are designed to minimalize the stops cyclists have to make because of other traffic. To make cycling more attractive, the routes not only serve commuters, but also offer recreational possibilities because of the green, less noisy and less polluted areas they run through. Cycling in parks or green areas is unusual in Copenhagen, through this project it is made possible and promoted explicitly for the first time.

In the long run bridges may link up the promenades along both sides of the harbour. It will also be possible to work with `missing links`: connecting existing sections of routes. The approved and continuous plan for Green Cycle Routes makes it easier to do this. Whenever possible, sections of a cycle route will also be integrated into other constructions, such as building projects, stations, squares, linear parks, etc. Existing cycle routes, such as the Vigerslev Route, may be gradually upgraded to a higher standard. In the entirely new district of Orestad new cycling routes will be established in connection with the planning of this brand new urban area.

Another aim was to connect the inner city better with its suburbs and the surrounding region. Cyclists rarely keep within the boundaries of a single municipality, region or country. For this reason, it was very important coordinating the Green Cycle Routes with the Green Path Route in the municipality of Frederiksberg, an independent municipality surrounded by the city of Copenhagen. In the region around Copenhagen a regional network of cycling paths was constructed over many years, making the Green Cyles Routes an easy way to connect the different networks of cycling routes. In addition, the national and European networks of cycle routes run through Copenhagen and will be incorporated into the new Green Cycle Routes for the benefit of cycle tourists from other areas of Denmark and abroad.

The basic report "Proposals for Green Cycle Routes: Home-Workplace Routes and Recreational Routes" was approved in 2000 by the Building and Construction Board as the foundation for further planning and development of green cycle routes. However, nothing specific was decided concerning priorities or details.

The Routes

All in all, 22 cycle routes are planned, totalling 110 kilometres. One third of the network already existed, although the standard was lower than wished for. By 2010, 41 kilometres were in place, with the intention to expand the network in the coming years. The length of the individual routes varies from under 2 km to over 8 km. The Green Cycle Routes are built to meet high standards, meaning that asphalt is 6,5m wide including the pedestrian path in central areas and wherever possible.

Experience shows that this standard is not always possible to achieve. Conflicts with pedestrians or nature conservation led to an approach more adapted to the given environment: in the case of busy pedestrian traffic for example it is better to separate the cyclists from the pedestrians; asphalt is not always a viable option. Therefore the Department of Traffic adapted a new type of gravel, which fits the demands of pedestrians, nature protection and design and is acceptable for the needs of the cyclists. Unfortunately, snow can’t be removed from gravel with machines.
The majority of the Green Routes is lit at night time. The most important paths are snow cleared.


Some of the Green Routes are marked with signposts indicating the direction and distance to certain key destinations. The Department of Transport developed a new system, because the available one was more adapted to the needs of the countryside. Low signpost of about one meter show the different directions and their distance and a higher one (of about 2m) displays general information. The new system of signposting had to be accepted by National Road Authority, before it could be put to use.

Implementation of the Green Cycling Routes

The Green Cycling Routes is a programme of the traffic department which has to work closely with the department for green areas. This cooperation was new for both sides and needed some time to turn into a productive collaboration. The problem is that the persons responsible for green areas often consider cycling just as one mode of transport not better or worse than cars. As a consequence, cyclists should not be in parks as these are recreational areas and pedestrians feel disturbed by them. Another problem faced, as described above, concerns asphalt in natural areas: this has been solved by exchanging it for gravel. With the ongoing implementation and continuous cooperation however, problems are being solved more and more quickly.

Special infrastructure

In Copenhagen, two cyclist and pedestrian bridges were built and a third one is being planned at the moment. Another bridge, Agadebroen, which is part of the Norrebro cycle route, was constructed in the context of the Green Cycling Routes programme. Other ones were constructed to serve several purposes and were therefore financed with money of the investment programme of the City of Copenhagen, and serve as important links in the Green Cycle Route network.

Costs of the Green Cycling Routes

The most expensive part of the Green Cycle Routes is its bridges. As a rule of thumb, 1 km of Green Cycle Routes is estimated to DKK 10 Mio (approx, 1,25 Mio. Euro), while the price of one bridge is about 40 Mio. DKK (approx. 5 Mio Euro). The cost of realising the whole Green Cycle Routes Network is estimated at about DKK 500 Mio. (70 Mio. Euro). The budget has to be applied for every year and needs the approval of the Council of Copenhagen. In the last years the Department for Traffic got a much bigger budget for cycling infrastructure than in former years.


The Green Cycle Routes are very well accepted among the population. On its main stretches, the routes are used about 5000-7000 cyclists a day. These results are satisfying until now, as expectations did not exceed 10.000 cyclists daily on the Green Cycle Routes.

Although not all the routes are implemented yet, the plan has already proved its viability by preventing new building projects from blocking future routes.

The future: From 40 to 110 kilometres of green routes

The network of Green Cycle Routes will be extended as politicians allocate the funding. The order in which the routes are to be established was decided upon by the City of Copenhagen's Technical and Environmental Committee in 2006.


Kommunale Mittel
70 000 000 €
Investment: 500 Mio DKK (ca. 70 Mio. Euro)
This amount of money is necessary for the realisation of the whole network.



Projektträger & Beteiligte

Traffic Department


Januar 2000


Ansprechpartner auf Projektebene: 
Mr. Niels Jensen
City of Copenhagen
Island Brygge 37
1505 Copenhagen
Telefon: +4533663569

Stand der Information
20. Juni 2010
Niels Jenssen, City of Copenhagen