People often ask where to store big, tough Dutch bicycles and trikes. After all they don’t fit inside doll-house sized Dutch apartments and certainly cannot be carried up the ladder-like stairs common in Amsterdam buildings. Answer: Dutch bikes are outdoor dogs. Like cars you just leave them outside, ready to ride… after unlocking the massive chain that protects in from the bicycle thieves. That’s why the good Dutch bikes are made simple, tough and understated, with thick, strong paint and lots of stainless steel parts.
The challenge is that Amsterdam is an extremely densely packed city of 800,000 people and the average resident has more than one bicycle. This means that many areas of Amsterdam are simply overflowing with bicycles. The bikes are locked to ubiquitous bicycle racks, canal railings, stair railings, streetlight poles, signpoles, fences, scaffolding and anything else that stands still long enough. That might not sound ideal but its heaven if you figure that one car takes as much space as about 20 bikes. If the bikes were replaced by cars Amsterdam would spread to cover an enormous area of land that doesn’t exist, losing most of what makes it so wonderful.
But in some places there are so many bicycles that special bicycle storage facilities are necessary. There are many examples but the best known is Amterdam Central Station (train station) which counts the following bicycle storage facilities:
Fietsflat: Built a few years ago as a temporary facility to hold 2500 bikes while work progresses on a permanent garage to hold 10,000 bikes. In fact its estimated that there are often 4000 bikes crammed in to the present “fietsflat”. Parking your bike here is free but its usually filled by mid-morning.
Bewaakte fietsenstallingen: two manned, underground bicycle parking garages, each with a capacity of about 500 bikes. For about €1.50 per day you can leave your bike here.
Fietspont: this a a brand new bike storage facility for 350 bikes on a decommisioned ferryboat in the Ij river behind the station. It was painted and decorated by homeless people (who ride bikes too). Its free bike parking here.
Underground bike garages: Enormous new bike parking facilities to house 10,000 bikes at the station by 2009 are in the works.
Everywhere else bikes can be fit: As everywhere else in Amsterdam, there are bikes locked to every centimeter of fixed object and ground space possible in the station area. People can be very creative about how they find a place to store their bicycle: in a canal, hanging by a cable from a bridge, vertical on a pole… anything goes!