Bicycle Culture in Denmark

by Asbjørn Lupo Nilsson

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2014
Keywords: Bicycle Culture; Risk; Culture of fear; Denmark; Cycling; Bicycle; Safety; Helmet; Helmet Legislation; Risk Society; Risk Compensation; Risk Perception
Record ID: 1120263
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/16931


The research area involves the cycling culture in Denmark. Cycling is one of the main forms of transport in Denmark today, and it has been a big part of Denmark’s culture since the early 20th century. This project specifically looks at bicycle helmets. Today in Denmark, there is no legislation demanding cyclists to wear helmets. However we would like to investigate what the government’s stance is concerning bicycle helmets. The project will begin by looking at the efficiency of helmets. Some studies have claimed helmets as being inadequate for safety, while other studies claim that it is a rational and logical choice to wear helmets. Lastly, this project will compare bicycle helmets promotion to the concepts of “risk society” and “culture of fear”. In this project we use Denmark as our case country. We could have studied other countries, such as e.g. the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia, which also have either a dominant bicycle culture or an increasing bicycle culture, and they would therefore also be interesting to study. Denmark is the first country we chose to study, and initially we thought of writing exclusively about Denmark and even more specifically about Copenhagen, but we realised that the project then would have been too descriptive. In order to avoid the project to be too descriptive, we researched more data, and found a new perspective on the bicycle culture in Denmark, which included the concept of fear and risk society.The project gathers data from several different sources, such as surveys, websites and books. All the data used for the project is secondary data, which is also why this project has applied a deductive approach, where we start with a hypothesis, thus proceeding to “test it” through our findings by the working questions. The project includes a segment which reviews the danish bicycle history. During this part of the project, several events are described, as well as how cycling changed over the years. The segment also give some final statistics concerning today’s cycling culture. Our research found that both the government and several cycling organisations are pro bicycle helmet usage. We also found that the government is generally opposed to helmet legislation. We also however found an actor with is opposed to promoting helmets. This actor claims that the promotion of helmets could seriously negatively affect the cycling culture of Denmark. The Danish government and the Danish cycling organisations are currently promoting the usage of bicycle helmets, even though their arguments for doing so remain unscientific. Though there is only one prominent actor in the helmet discourse in Denmark who is opposed to the usage of bicycle helmets, i.e. Andersen, there are many studies and theories supporting him in the fight against helmets. We can conclude that the promotion of bicycle helmets can coherently be compared to culture of fear and risk society. Statistically the number of serious injuries and deaths related to cycling has declined greatly over the last couple of…