National Geographic Traveller (UK)



Denmark has declared 2022 the ‘Year of the Bike’, ringfencin­g £49 million to expand its cycling infrastruc­ture, and there are few better ways to experience the full force of the country’s sustainabi­lity credential­s than on a ride through leafy Copenhagen. Words: Sarah Marshall

Hovering above Copenhagen’s concrete skyline, a kaleidosco­pe of birds, bees and butterflie­s has gathered for an extraordin­ary feast. Being the height of spring, flowers are blooming, and the air is thick with sweet nectar. But what makes this pollinatio­n party so special is the location — a garden 280ft above street level on the roof of an incinerato­r.

Capable of converting 440,000 tons of waste into clean energy annually, CopenHill is testimony to the Danish city’s ambitions for becoming the world’s first carbonneut­ral capital by 2025. The offbeat attraction is also a highlight on an eco-themed ride organised by non-profit organisati­on Green Bike Tours, led by expert guides with a background in sustainabi­lity studies.

During the three-hour experience, I learn about sustainabl­e city planning initiative­s such as green roofs and rain management systems. Better still, I’ve saved 1.1kg of carbon by doing the tour on a bike rather than touring by car.

Flat, easy to navigate and equipped with around

240 miles of curb-separated cycle tracks and bridges, Copenhagen is a city made for two wheels. Since 2015, it’s deservedly claimed the title of world’s most bicycle friendly city, according to an IPSO index that graded features such as infrastruc­ture, policy and local culture.

Building on their success, the government has declared 2022 the Year of the Bike, backed up with a commitment to invest millions into improving cycle paths and traffic safety.

Confident I can pedal at the same pace as the locals, I set off on an independen­t ride through the city. Known as the Green Path, the Nørrebro route runs along an old railway track in Frederiksb­erg. It’s not long before office blocks are replaced by allotments, while lampposts and pillars soon make way for twisted tree trunks supporting a ceiling of sky.

Running for almost six miles, from Lyngbyvej in the north to Valby in the south, the route crosses over so many parklands and green spaces, any distinctio­n between town and country is easily erased.

But green isn’t the only colour decorating nature-loving Copenhagen. Islands are wrapped with blue ribbons of waterways, all traversed by a network of architectu­rally striking bridges with generous cycle lanes.

Opened in 2014, Cykelslang­en (the ‘bicycle snake’) is one of the most aesthetica­lly pleasing and promises some of the best views. Starting in Vesterbro, it curves above the Havnebadet Fisketorve­t harbour swimming baths and continues to Islands Brygge.

Along the busy 720ft route, I join business executives racing to the office, hipsters peddling between coffee shops and parents doing the school run with a side-buggy in tow. An invention exported globally, these bike trailers started life in hippy, car-free commune Christiani­a in the 1970s. Initially made from recycled materials and old bed frames, they’ve evolved into sophistica­ted pieces of kit used for much more than ferrying small children around town. Street food trader Michele Lucarelli from Bike and Bake has customised his trailer with a pizza oven, while Rustvogn Cyklen use their flower-festooned chariot to carry corpses to funerals.

The most inventive adaptation, however, goes to Nordic Cryobank, whose Sperm Bullitt speedily transports donor samples to fertility clinics. As much a novelty as those birds and bees spreading seeds on the roof of a rubbish dump, it’s another part of the great creation steadily transformi­ng Copenhagen’s green streets.

How to do it: A three-hour tour with Green Bike Tours costs 250kr (£28) per person. greenbiket­ Alternativ­ely, borrow a bike from your hotel, use the Donkey Republic app or rent one through Bycyklen, who have more than 100 stations across the city. visitcopen­

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Right: Litter picking with Green Kayak, Copenhagen
There are nearly 250 miles of cycle tracks and bridges in Copenhagen Right: Litter picking with Green Kayak, Copenhagen

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