COPENHAGEN, Denmark – For traffic planners and politicians ‘Copenhagenize the city’ has become international shorthand for the promotion of cycling culture and infrastructure. For many people in the world the Danish capital provides a lot of inspiration when talking about improving urban living, mobility, and the environment. It is one of the first, if not the only city in the world with special cyclists’ “pamper areas” where you can pump up your bike tires and refill your water bottle.
The cycling community is a reality in Denmark – at least in the cities of Copenhagen and Odense. According to a report in the Copenhagen Post last July, no less than 40% of the population in Greater Copenhagen goes about their daily commute by bike. Nationwide, a respectable 36% of all Danish adults ride a bike to work at least once a week. Outside Denmark, any other cities tackling mobility and environmental problems would be jealous reading these statistics.
Beyond the mobility and environmental benefits of Copenhagen’s two-wheeled love lies an economic boon for the city. Copenhagen city council has calculated that the local cycling industry turns over €170 million a year. According to the report, there are 309 registered workplaces in Greater Copenhagen that either sell or repair bicycles. These businesses account for 650 full-time jobs.
The overall sales statistics of the Danish association for bike retailers, the ‘Danske Cykelhandlere’ are not as positive. Although nine out of ten Danes has a bicycle, sales have been declining since 2008. In 2010 an estimated 497,876 units were sold on the Danish market, a decline of 4.3% compared with 2009. Although this figure could be regarded as relatively small, it is the third consecutive year for the trend. In 2007 the Danish market still accounted for 554,300 units, or 11.3% more than last year.
The local industry has been marginalized in the past year and production continues to decline following the closing down of Kildemoes, as Bike Europe reported last year. Last year only 46,878 bicycles, or 28% less than in 2009, were manufactured in Denmark.
Although the statistics of the Danish association for bike retailers do not specify how many bicycles produced in Denmark are meant for the local market and how many are exported, it is worth nothing that for the first time in decades the number of exported bikes is larger than the Danes produced themselves. Export made a big leap last year from 19,666 units in 2009 to 49,002 bicycles in 2010.
As in many other European countries the Danish bicycle industry is saved by the e-bike, but also the MTB is doing very well here.
According to Erik Oddershede, spokesman of the Danske Cykelhandlere’ the turnover of the retailers was roughly the same as in 2009, despite the decline in units sold. The IBDs managed to maintain their market share at 63% in 2010, just as in 2009 and 2008. The biggest gain for the IBDs came with the rapidly growing average price. Danes are buying more expensive bikes as well as e-bikes. Just as Bike Europe expected in the Market Report Denmark 2009, e-bike sales reached 17,426 units or 3.5% of the total market of new bicycles sold in 2010.
Compared with 2009 when 10,410 e-bikes were sold, that is an increase of no less than 67%. It looks like the Danes have discovered the advantages of the e-bike – picking up on a trend already seen in the Dutch and German markets.
Not surprisingly, the rise of the e-bike comes together with a decline in sales of city bikes with an internal gear hub. In 2007 the city bike with internal gear hub was by far the biggest segment with 38% of the market. Although it is still the largest slice of the market it dropped to 32% last year. The Classic city bike seems little affected by the e-bike, with a stable share between 23-25%.
Another remarkable development is the sale of mountain bikes.
While diminished to a niche and sportive only segment Europe-wide, the MTB is able to keep up its market share in Denmark. In 2007 some 49,887 units were sold, at that time 9% of the total market. Last year the number of MTBs on the market had grown to 59,745 or 12% of the market. In terms of units, that’s even a bigger increase than e-bikes! In the past the Danish bicycle market did not show big fluctuations among the different categories (see table) but the e-bike and MTB are stirring up the market.
Adjustment of the Official Statistics
Just as with last year the data for this 2009 and 2010 report on the Danish bike business comes from Erik Oddershede, director of the Danish association for bike dealers ‘Danske Cykelhandlere’. The ‘official’ bike sales figures from the Danish Statistical Bureau are much higher than those from Danske Cykelhandlere and Erik Oddershede. As indicated in the table ‘The Bike Market in Denmark’ Erik Oddershede claims the import and domestic consumption figures from the Danish Statistical Bureau are incorrect.