Cycle superhighways in Denmark’s Capital Region

Author: Richard Adams

The Danish Cycle Superhighway collaboration between 27 municipalities and the Capital Region of Denmark shows the major benefits that come from developing cycling infrastructure.

Since the first cycle superhighway opened in the Capital Region of Denmark in 2012, the Cycle Superhighway Collaboration has been busy expanding the route network and monitoring its effects.

This year marks its 10th anniversary, and the results of the eight existing routes have now been collected in a dedicated Bicycle Account.

A growing collaboration

In 2009, 16 municipalities and the Capital Region of Denmark began working together to create cohesive and interconnected bicycle routes in the region and improve infrastructure for commuters biking across municipal borders.

Now, ten years later, eleven additional municipalities have joined. This makes the Cycle Superhighway Collaboration between 27 municipalities and the Capital Region the largest and most ambitious example of collective cross-municipal bicycle infrastructure in Denmark.

“Copenhagen initiated the Cycle Superhighway Collaboration after a report showed major potential in decreasing urban congestion by increasing the number of bike commuters entering and leaving Copenhagen.

“However, in order to do that, we need to collaborate with the other municipalities in the region to improve the conditions for cycling. Copenhagen might be the world’s most bicycle-friendly city, but that doesn’t affect our ambition to continue to improve and expand – and maybe even one day be a part of the world’s most bicycle-friendly region,” says Ninna Hedeager Olsen, Mayor of Technical and Environmental Affairs, City of Copenhagen.

A 23% increase in cyclists
The total planned network of cycle superhighways consists of 45 routes. Currently, eight have been built, with eight more due to be launched in the coming years.

The effects are clear. On average, upgrading cycle routes to cycle superhighways has resulted in a 23% increase in cyclists, with 14% of the new cyclists previously having travelled by car. Furthermore, the average trip length on the cycle superhighways is 11km.

Time-efficient daily exercise
The cycle superhighway Bicycle Account shows not only the positive direct impacts of the routes, but also the indirect effects of the total network and of commuting by bike in general.

A socio-economic analysis of the cycle superhighway network estimates that the project resulted in a socio-economic surplus of €765 million, making the project one of Denmark’s most profitable infrastructure investments. The health benefits alone make up for €616m of the socio-economic surplus.

The Cycle Superhighway Collaboration has been selected as one of the 100 city projects making the case for climate action in 2019 by the Cities100 Report. Already, cycling in the Capital Region saves the region the equivalent of 15,000 Danes’ annual CO2 emissions.

Find out more on Copenhagen’s work in CIVITAS Handshake here.  


This project has received funding from the European Union‘s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement no 769177.

The sole responsibility for the content of this website lies with the CIVITAS Handshake project and in no way reflects the views of the European Commission.