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Urban infrastructure planning

Urban mobility

The Bicycle Serpent – Solving Bicycling Infrastructure

10. November 2016

Solution provider

City of Copenhagen
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The Cycle Serpent - an overpass that benefits the city space and road users

The Biycle Serpent, is a 230 m long sky bridge which offers a short cut to the bridge “Bryggebroen” and was opened in the summer of 2014 improving the bicycle infrastructure in central Copenhagen. The Biycle Serpent takes off where Bryggebroen ends on the Eastern side of the harbour and continues to Kalvebod Brygge. More than 20.000 cycle journeys across the Cycle Serpent every day.

The bridge has been giving its name “The Bicycle Serpent” (Cykelslangen in danish) as it weaves its way around the glass-fronted buildings on the harbour front in level with the first floor. The bridge is exclusively for bicycles. Pedestrians use the space Havneholmen underneath the bridge.

Before the bridge was built, Copenhageners had to lug their bikes up and down the stairs, and share the limited space with the pedestrians on the steps that lead from the main entrance of shopping mall Fisketorvet down to the area of the harbour at Kalvebod Brygge. Every cyclist saves 1 minute by not having to use the stairs, which amounts to almost EUR 2000 a day -- more than EUR 0.7 million a year in socio-economic benefits. That gives a payback time of 7 years and it thereby a great benefit to society.

The Cycle Serpent is a great example of a costly yet effective bicycle infrastructure solution in Copenhagen. The project had a cost of EUR 5 million and was partly finances by national funds and by the City of Copenhagen.

The idea behind the bridge was to create something that could be more than just a replacement of the staircase. The idea was to make the bridge more joyful to ride on, with less steep gradients and better curvature, and at the same time make it an element that could pull together an area with a multitude of incoherent buildings. The Bicycle Serpent is thus a specific answer to a specific challenge in the infrastructure in Copenhagen.

The bike route barely touches land or water as the bridge is resting on slim columns with a distance of 17 – 20 m. The colour is orange to give it warmth in daytime and at night it is lit up from the LED strips in the glimmering stainless steel handrails. At the same time the elevated solution that DISSING+WEITLING architecture has come up with is described by the architects as not an attempt to establish elevated bicycle routes as such, but to separate cyclist from the ground level.

The structure of the bicycle bridge

The bridge is a painted, airtight welded steel structure, carried by a central steel spine – a 75 cm box girder, from which a series of cantilevered struts, made of folded steel plates, carries the steel plate deck. The architects have aimed for a slim structure to reduce the visual impact. The parapet consists of inward leaning steel bars with a circular cross section with a stainless steel handrail. The anti-slip pavement consists of a granulated stone on an acrylic compound. The bridge is lit from LED strip lighting built into the parapet handrail.

The world’s best cycling city has no missing links the establishment of The Bicycle Serpent is a part of The City of Copenhagen’s goal of becoming the world’s best city for cycling. Copenhagen’s network of cycle tracks must be connected so that the bicycle becomes an even easier and faster choice for people to get around the city. In the bicycle network, missing links are tried to be removed by for instance by establishing new bicycle tracks, bridges, tunnels and throughways to make road junctions safer. It is estimated that the time saved by cyclists because of The Bicycle Serpent amounts to more than 5 million DKK yearly, with other positive effects not taken into consideration. On top of that, it was expected that the number of cyclists would rise with the opening of the bridge and therefore The Bicycle Serpent will have paid for itself in 8 years, based on timesaving alone.


Design phase: 2010-2011 Detail design: 2011-2012 Completed: 2014

Total length: 230m Total width: 4.6m Height difference between Havneholmen and Fisketorvet main entrance: 5.5m Column distance: 17m

Client: Municipality of Copenhagen Architect: DISSING+WEITLING architecture Landscape: Marianne Levinsen Landskab Engineer: Rambøll (DK) Contractor: MT Højgaard (DK) Light Design: lightconstructor (DK)

Renderings: DISSING+WEITLING architecture