Urban development: On Copenhagen’s bicycle bridges


Photo credit Ole Malling

The Bicycle Snake is 230 metres long.


Photo credit Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST Studio

Each day 12,500 bicyclists passed The Bicycle Snake.


Photo credit Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST Studio

The structure of The Bicycle Bridge is placed 5,5 metres above the quay.


Photo credit Studio Olafur Eliasson

The Circle Bridge connects Christiansbro with Applebys Square.


Photo credit Studio Olafur Eliasson

The Circle Bridge allows free passing for boats up to 2 metres in height. When bigger boats need to pass, the bridge can open.


Photo credit Studio Olafur Eliasson

The masts of The Circle Bridge pays homage to the maritime history of Christianshavn, Copenhagen.


We have taken a closer look at Copenhagen’s bicycle bridges, which, every day, help thousands of cyclists to get around. As a growing city, Denmark’s capital has a strategy to become the best cycling city in the world by the end of 2015. The goal is for 50% of all journeys to work and school to be made by bicycle in 2015, and this goal is encouraged by the creation of bicycle bridges.

By 2025, 90% of Copenhagen’s cyclists should feel safe in traffic and their travel time will be reduced by 15%. Bridges help to achieve this goal because they navigate the cyclists away from pedestrians and traffic, and provide a shortcut through the city.

Making a more interconnected inner city, the Bicycle Snake provides Copenhagen cyclists with an amusing ride along the harbour, passing its tower blocks at first-floor level. Extending out onto the water, the curving bridge, with a total length of 230 metres, offers an appealing, vibrant cycling experience.

Designed by Danish architect firm DISSING+WEITLING Architecture the bridge connects the area, where Bryggebroen (Wharf Bridge) takes off on the eastern side of the harbour. From there, it continues in a snaking course to Kalvebod Brygge, a major road, some 5.5 metres above the quay. With a daily bicycle count of around 12,500, the Bicycle Snake is one of the busiest bicycle bridges in Copenhagen.

The Bicycle Snake is held up by a central steel spine. The architects aimed for a slim structure, with no non-essential elements, thereby reducing the visual impact. Transparency and simplicity were keywords—as was structural refinement. At night, the bridge is lit by LED strip-lightning built into the handrail, while the walking surface is coated with an anti-slip pavement.

Guaranteeing cyclists improved accessibility and connection to the Christianshavn area of Copenhagen, the Circle Bridge is another interesting take on how to build a bicycle bridge. Crossing the Christianshavn Canal in the area between Christianbro and the promenade by Danisco, the Circle Bridge will connect Applebys Square with Christiansbro.

Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, designed the Circle Bridge, which is set to open later in 2015. The bridge will be approximately 32 metres long and have a clearance that will allow motorboats of less than 2 metres in height to pass freely. For bigger boats to pass, the bridge needs to open.

The name of the bridge derives from the shape of the five circular platforms that compose the structure. Each with their own mast, the circular platforms vary in size, making the course of the bridge slightly twisting, as a contrast to the long, straight quay. The masts are inspired by Christianshavn’s maritime history and are visually similar to those of a ship.

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