New smartphone tour helps visitors Bike the City

The cycling programme takes tourists through the bicycling capital of the world in a comfortable and easy way

The City of Cyclists has gone hi-tech with a new tour that combines the nearly two century old iron horse with the modern GPS-outfitted smartphone. 

After spending about two and a half years in development, Anton Ryslinge, an architect and urban planner, rolled out his Bike the City pre-recorded bicycle tours for Copenhagen visitors earlier this summer.

Bike the City’s GPS units are attached to the front handlebars of bicycles rented at the Cykelbørsen rental shop on Gothersgade. The units, which are re-purposed secondhand smartphones, are programmed with a GPS-guided tour route and audio recordings.

Tourists choose the style of tour they want to go on, whether it is the Copenhagen Classic that takes participants through famous monuments and landmarks, the Classic Extended tour or the Nørrebro tour. The GPS has enough battery power to go through multiple tours in a day, but The Copenhagen Post chose to test out the Nørrebro tour, a 10km journey through parks, back roads and busy streets.

The Nørrebro tour takes you through Superkilen, a multicultural park and home to the red physical activity zone (Photo: Madison Phillips)Through the GPS coordinates of the smartphone, the voice of BBC reporter Peter Baker spends four minutes explaining the significance of each tour destination. History buffs will rejoice, but for those who might find it overkill, it’s easy to skip those explanations and continue on with the journey once a general idea of the landmark is achieved. In addition to Baker's English track, the audio tour is also available in French, German and Danish.

Tourists may feel a bit apprehensive about taking a long cycling tour, given Copenhagen’s busy cycling streets and the locals' reputation for not being overly patient of struggling newbies, but the GPS directs the user through quiet paths and, when on the bigger roads, there is usually a bike lane to stay in.

Besides riding on optimal roads, having the directions propped up in front of the cyclist just a glance away is a very helpful tool. If you take a wrong turn or want to see more of something, the trusty GPS can simply direct the user back on track.

You can take a break and relax at one of the myriad of cafés and restaurants the Nørrebro tour takes you past (Photo: Madison Phillips)Our Nørrebro tour took us on small back streets that we otherwise would have never explored and entire bike paths we wouldn't have found without a handy little device leading the way. Throughout the tour, Copenhagen’s highly amicable relationship with cyclists was highlighted in a fun and comfortable way.

The fact that Copenhagen has an extensive and successful bicycle network is something Bike the City echoes with its well-thought-out and meticulous cycling programmes.  If you really want to get a feel of the city, take the tour. You can experience the city at your own pace, go off on your own route and return yourself to the rental shop at the end of the day tired out and full of new sights.

Bike the City at Københavns Cykelbørs, Gothersgade 157, CPH K; Rent Mon-Fri 09:30-12:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-12:00, closed Sun from 1 Sep- 1 Jun, Return GPS before 17:30 Mon-Fri and 18:00 Sat-Sun, Return bike before 10:00 next day; GPS and full day bike rent 225 kr, Refunded deposit 600 kr on credit card, booking required for group of 5 or more;  www.bikethecity.dk