Copenhagen City Bikes
Copenhagen City Bikes or Bycykler København is the bicycle sharing system of Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

, Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. Launched in 1995 with 1,000 cycles, the project was the world's first large-scale urban bike-sharing scheme. It features specially designed bikes with parts that cannot not be used on other bikes. Riders pay a refundable deposit at one of 110 special bike stands and have unlimited use of a bike within the specified downtown area. The scheme is funded by commercial sponsors. In return, the bikes carry advertisements, which appear on the bike frame and the solid-disk type wheels.


The original idea behind the scheme was to reduce the theft of bicycles in the city by offering specially designed units for free public use based on commercial sponsoring and advertising. It was initiated by entrepreneurs Ole Wessung and Morten Sadolin who believed that insurance companies would be willing to sponsor the programme as they would benefit financially from the reduction in stolen bicycles which were running at 27,000 a year in the city at the time.

Initial trials were however unsuccessful and it was not until the scheme was backed by a foundation supported by the Municipality of Copenhagen
Copenhagen municipality
Copenhagen Municipality is the largest of the municipalities making up the city of Copenhagen. It lies at the center of Copenhagen and contains the old historic city....

 together with various government ministries and some private interests that it became viable. Indeed, once the foundation had raised 2 million Danish crown
Danish krone
The krone is the official currency of the Kingdom of Denmark consisting of Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. It is subdivided into 100 øre...

s, the scheme finally got off the ground in May 1995. By 1996, with 10 additional sponsors including the Coca Cola Company, 1,500 cycles were made available throughout the city. By 2003, as a result of additional sponsors, the foundation was able to increase the number of city bikes to 2,500.

Now that it has been in operation for 15 years, the scheme has served as an example for many other cities worldwide to adopt similar approaches.

Current conditions

Today the city bikes are available from 110 cycles stands distributed throughout the downtown area. The cycles can be used in daylight hours during the summer months (mid-April to November) by using a 20 DKK
Danish krone
The krone is the official currency of the Kingdom of Denmark consisting of Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. It is subdivided into 100 øre...

 coin to retrieve them from the cycle stands. The coin is refunded when you return them.

Copenhagen has an extensive and well-designed system of cycle path
Segregated cycle facilities
Segregated cycle facilities are marked lanes, tracks, shoulders and paths designated for use by cyclists from which motorised traffic is generally excluded...

s, earning it a reputation as one of the most bicycle-friendly
The term bicycle-friendly describes policies and practices which may help some people feel more comfortable about traveling by bicycle with other traffic...

 cities in the world. In recognition of Copenhagen's emphasis on bicycling, the city has been chosen by the Union Cycliste Internationale
Union Cycliste Internationale
Union Cycliste Internationale is the world governing body for sports cycling and oversees international competitive cycling events. The UCI is based in Aigle, Switzerland....

 as their first official Bike City. Bike City Copenhagen covers the period 2008 to 2011 and consists of big cycling events for professionals as well as amateurs.

Plans for a new system

In 2009, an international competition was launched by Copenhagen Municipality, calling for proposals to replace the City Bikes with more modern models. In particular, designs for a new bike-sharing system were to provide for attractiveness, elegance, robustness, integration into the city's transport infrastructure and ease of implementation. In all, there were 127 proposals. The two winners announced in December 2009 were:
  • OPENbike, a Swedish-Californian proposal for an integrated system with no requirements for fixed geographical identification points. The location of bikes can be monitored automatically when the bikes are not moving, allowing them to be parked and locked anywhere, including in common cycle stands. Users with the system's RFID smartcards or their own NFC-equipped smartphones can access any available bike, and the latter can also find bikes with their smartphone. Those administering the system can also see how bikes can best be distributed when necessary.

  • Myloop, a French-Japanese proposal. The jury was particularly impressed by the bike's design, user-friendliness and environmental assets. Unlike OPENbike, Myloop bikes need to be recharged in a docking station
    Docking station
    A Docking station or port replicator or dock provides a simplified way of “plugging-in” an electronic device such as a laptop computer to common peripherals...

    . Bikes can be attached to each other, just like supermarket caddies, allowing power to run between them. Registered users gain access via a smartcard. Bikes are equipped with GPS devices, allowing information about their location and status to be monitored centrally.

The new bikes are to be introduced in 2013. The city authorities expect to be able to combine the best features from both of the winning designs.

See also

  • Cycling in Copenhagen
    Cycling in Copenhagen
    Cycling in Copenhagen is - as with most bicycling in Denmark - an important means of transportation and a dominating feature of the cityscape, often noticed by visitors. The city offers a variety of favorable cycling conditions — dense urban proximities, short distances and flat terrain...

  • Utility cycling
    Utility cycling
    Utility cycling encompasses any cycling not done primarily for fitness, recreation such as cycle touring, or sport such as cycle racing, but simply as a means of transport...

  • Segregated cycle facilities
    Segregated cycle facilities
    Segregated cycle facilities are marked lanes, tracks, shoulders and paths designated for use by cyclists from which motorised traffic is generally excluded...

  • Modal share
    Modal share
    Modal share, Mode split or Modal split, is a traffic / transport term that describes the number of trips or percentage of travelers using a particular type of transportation....

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