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Sep 16, 2013

New Work: Copenhagen Bike Map

by Geraldine

We've been working on designing a bike map for the City of Copenhagen, the number one bike capital of the world. Emil Tin, IT and Process Specialist from the City of Copenhagen, has been giving me frequent tours on our weekly Skype calls, going over every map feature that would be most helpful for navigating the city on a bike. Having only experienced biking in San Francisco, I quickly discovered that in Copenhagen, the biker's experience is quite the opposite. I learned that, in Copenhagen, cars and bikes coexist harmoniously, and that highlighting bike lanes is not as important as it would be in San Francisco. Cars are accustomed to bikes and while there are designated bike lanes and raised curbs, most roads are bikable in the city of Copenhagen. It really is bike heaven. It's irresistible to bike! I wish I could say the same for San Francisco.


My first task was a broad color exploration of color possibilities with the idea of highlighting a line. Below are two examples:

I also tried the highlight effect as a halo:

A few weeks later, we finally arrived at this color scheme. Clear, minimal and bright. The green and blue would fit perfectly as well, since we wanted to give prominence to green and water areas, two key features that Copenhagen bikers use in navigating around the city.

Bike Tour

Knowing what to display and what not to display (or visually minimize) became rule #1 in creating a clear, concise and readable bike map. Below is an overview of key features on the map.

Bike Lanes and Tracks

I ended up using the halo highlight effect for bike lanes and tracks in yellow. This solution works particularly well for highlighting various road types, with road line-widths varying for each type. It's a clean and clear solution, by avoiding layering colors on top of one another, thereby avoiding the mixture of colors whenever adjusting the opacities of features. Below are the two types of bike lanes highlighted on the map:

  • Street with a painted line
    Tags: highway=primary, cycleway:left=lane, cycleway:right=lane
  • Street with a raised curb
    Tags: highway=primary, cycleway=track, cycleway:left=track, cycleway:right=track

Bike Routes

  • Purple - National Cycling Route
  • Blue - Regional Cycling Route
  • Green - Local Cycling Route

Read more about cycle routes


No Access Roads

Push Your Bike

Bike Obstructions or Difficult for Bikes

Cobblestone Streets

The gray dotted lines indicate cobblestone streets.

Bike Barriers

Bike barriers are indicated by 2 diagonal lines. Especially important for cargo bikes.


Steps are in orange. Blue indicates that a bike ramp is available.

Other Features


Our goal here was to indicate one-way streets for bikes only. For this we followed the same logic IBikeCPH uses in their routing code. Read more about one-way here.


Thin gray lines indicate footpaths. Dashed lines show you paths where you must push your bike.

Check out the full map online at