Shipping and maritime
Urban infrastructure planning
Denmark and Sweden Launch an International Bicycle Ferry
Sweden and Denmark are now giving cyclists a dedicated way to cross the maritime border that divides them.
Starting this summer, a new international ferry service will link Copenhagen with the adjacent Swedish city of Malmö, just across the Oresund strait, carrying up to 36 passengers and their bicycles. It’s the first cross-border sea route designed especially for cyclists—though it will also accept passengers without bicycles —and it should help rectify a minor misstep in the region’s transit. To be more precise, the ferry will travel between the small town of Dragør, near Copenhagen, and Limhamn, west of Malmö city centre.
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Before the Oresund Bridge opened in 2000, it was quite easy to cycle up to the old ferry port and wheel your bicycle aboard a craft. Since the bridge opened, however, ferry services directly between the two cities have been canceled. Nowadays, you can only cross the busy seaway between the two countries by passenger boat if you travel 30 miles north of Copenhagen to cross at Elsinore. Bicycles are allowed on the trains across the Oresund Bridge (for the price of a child’s ticket) but when cyclists tried illegally to use the roadway to cycle across last summer, police closed the bridge. If leisure cyclists are going to be able to cross in a way that’s both pleasant and convenient, they need a new ferry.
The ferry in question will be a 1940-built converted fishing boat called the M/S Elefanten, whose path will effectively mirror that of the Oresund bridge. Journeying from the Malmö district of Limhamn to Dragør, a suburban town just south of Copenhagen’s airport, the new ferry will not likely be a commuter service—the distance between the two cities is still a little too far to be crossed daily with pedal power. It should still attract tourists and Copenhagen’s day-trippers who want to cycle straight out of the city and across to the Swedish coast.
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The idea of a boat designed mainly for two-wheelers might sound odd, but such services already exist in Scandinavia. Sweden already runs a service to the holiday island of Öland, also launched when a new bridge to the island canceled ferry services. Meanwhile, Finland runs bike boats around its Swedish-speaking Åland Islands. The Danish archipelago has many bicycle ferry links and the country is already planning another international service, this time to Germany across the country’s southern Flensburg Fjord.
Across Europe, plans are afoot to extend the distances which people normally ride, whether its Germany’s bicycle autobahns , Bosnia’s rural answer to the High Line or Norway’s massive investment in longer distance bicycle paths even north of the Arctic Circle. The new Sweden-Denmark bicycle ferry may be a mere drop in the Baltic, but it’s yet more evidence of a European path network designed for two-wheelers gradually knitting itself together.
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