Fine Cycling in Copenhagen

Tracy's gonna need a lot of Kroner

The Copenhagen Post reports on huge increases in fines for various cycling traffic violations in Denmark:

Biking fines, effective Jan 1

  • Cycling without lights in the dark: 700 kr (US$119.58)
  • Using a hand-held mobile phone while biking: 1,000 kr (US$170.84)
  • Missing or defective brakes or reflectors: 700 kr (US$119.58)
  • Cycling through a red light: 1,000 kr (US$170.84)
  • Cycling against traffic: 1,000 kr (US$170.84)
  • Cycling across a pedestrian crossing: 700 kr (US$119.58)
  • Cycling on the cycle path on the left side of the street: 700 kr (US$119.58)
  • Not respecting traffic signs or arrows: 700 kr (US$119.58)
  • Violating the right of way: 1,000 kr (US$170.84)
  • Failure to signal a turn or stop: 700 kr (US$119.58)
  • Cycling no-handed: 700 kr (US$119.58)
  • Cycling on the pavement: 700 kr (US$119.58; I believe pavement is a Britishism for sidewalk)
  • Holding onto a vehicle: 700 kr (US$119.58)
  • Having two or more people on a regular bicycle: 700 kr per person (US$119.58)
  • Wrong position while/before turning: 700 kr (US$119.58)
  • Non-functioning bell: Warning

(Italics are my conversion to US Dollars using google on 1/8/12; no attempt was made to adjust for purchasing power parity, which is considerable.)

The Post reports that Parliament isn’t just picking on bikes:  “Registered [motor vehicle] traffic infractions that used to cost between 500 and 1,500 kroner will after January 1 cost 2,000 kroner, while speeding tickets will increase by between 500 and 1,000 kroner.”

While these fines may not seem high to anyone who’s ridden a bike on the U of M campus lately, the nuance of the fines seems novel to this American.  When I was ticketed for riding a bike on Nicollet Mall a month or two before it was made legal (again), my citation was for “rid[ing] bike on sidewalk.”  While Minnesota statute is surprisingly specific about certain bike-related issues, such as lights, it is also famously imprecise about other issues, such as right-of-way at trail crossings.  I doubt MN gets as specific as the Danes on its schedule of fines.

But maybe it should.  I hate to say it, but a small part of the feeling of freedom I get from cycling comes from knowing that not all the rules apply to me.  I run a red light on occasion (mostly the occasion is the intersection is more dangerous to proceed through with cars), but I’ve also been yelled at by cops for making a left turn from the roadway (rather the sidewalk).  Maybe fines like these mean cyclists have really arrived.  On the other hand, maybe it just means that even in Denmark, cyclists can be a convenient scapegoat.

Thanks to for the news on the Danish fines.



Alex Bauman

About Alex Bauman

Alex enjoys blogging on his iPhoneDroid while stuck in traffic on his 90 minute daily commute to Roseville from bucolic Staggerford.