Amsterdam to increase badly needed bike parking

| April 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

“It’s not a war zone, but it’s the next thing to it,” Willem van Heijningen told the New York Times last summer. A railway official responsible for bicycle parking around Amsterdam’s main train station, Heijningen was lamenting the overcrowding that regularly characterizes not just the station, but the city’s bike lanes and dedicated bike parking.

crowded bike parking in amsterdam

A third of all trips in Amsterdam are taken by bike – but the changing face of transit in the Netherlands is highlighting bike parking deficits. From Flickr’s redjar.

Now a report from the UN and World Health Organization’s (WHO) European offices adds further context to the situation: One third of trips made in Amsterdam are by bike, the highest percentage in the region, with Copenhagen (26%) and Berlin (13%) second and third on the list, respectively. Most other cities included fall somewhere between 1% and 3%.

The numbers are unlikely to surprise locals. According to the city council, travel by bike has risen more than 40 percent in the last twenty years, and the number of bikes (880,000) outstrips the number of residents (800,000) in the Dutch capital. That’s because many Amsterdamers own an average of more than one bike and often don’t pay much attention where they’re parked, behavior the local government has brought attention to in the past: In 2011, it displayed a sculpture of 200 abandoned bicycles.

Indeed, 15% of all bikes parked outside are believed to be unused, the majority of which (60%) are located in the city center. Besides taking up space that could be used by active cyclists and creating visual clutter, the abandoned bikes burden the local government, which must deal with removing 15,000 bicycles yearly.

The circumstances are beginning to affect accessibility, and the city has decided to accelerate initiatives intended to aid cyclists. It is looking into implementing “green waves,” the traffic-engineering term used to describe the intentional coordination of green lights over several intersections in one direction. Cyclists traveling at a speed of 15 to 18 kilometers per hour, for example, will be able to travel without stopping for a red light. The city is also considering extra space for cyclists at crossings and officially appointing someone to supervise the removal of unused bicycles.

While these measures suggest frustration with the popularity of bike travel, a problem other cities have yet to encounter, there appears to be no backlash against cyclists or the transportation mode, only continued support. The city is planning to add 17 kilometers of bike lanes to its network, and to increase the number of bike parking by another 40,000 spots.

“The payoffs from these investments are enormous, and include new jobs and healthier people from more physical activity, fewer road traffic injuries, less noise, and better air quality,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO regional director for Europe.

The report estimates that 1,600 jobs are associated with biking in Amsterdam, including those related to bicycle retail and maintenance and urban development.

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Category: Green Parking, News

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