New Bakfiets parking area at Amsterdam Centraal

As part of the constant struggle to provide parking for the ever growing number of bicycles ridden to Amsterdam Centraal Station every day the city of Amsterdam is building a special parking area for bakfietsen. This will be directly across from the famous and much photographed fietsflat. There will only be 40 parking spaces but that’s better than the zero available now. Presently those who need to park a bakfiets at the station can either park it a couple blocks away or in the two indoor “fietsenstalling” run by MacBike.

fietsflat amsterdam station bike parking facility bicycle parking garage in amsterdam Amsterdam bicycle parking garage
Bicycle parking on ferry in amsterdam old ferry used as bike parking at amsterdam station fietspont, bicycle parking behind amsterdam centraal station

Why ride a bakfiets to the station when it’s so much more difficult to park than a normal bike? Well, a parent might drop the kids off at school and continue on to the station during their morning commute. Or a family might go to the station with the kids in order to take the train to visit grandma, or for a weekend in Paris or…

The problem is that providing parking for all the bicycles is a hopeless battle. Each day 250,000 travelers pass though Amsterdam Centraal, a considerable number of whom arrive by bicycle. This is not surprising considering that it’s the most practical and cheapest way to reach the station for most of Amsterdam’s residents. But Amsterdam Central stands on a small artificial island so space is very limited. Current bicycle parking includes:

  • Fietsflat: Designed for 2500 bikes but generally crammed with 4000.
  • Fietspont: a decommissioned ferry with a couple hundred parking spots
  • Indoor parking: Mac Bike operates two guarded bike parking garages, each with capacity of about 500 bikes.
  • Fietsbarges: There are a couple floating bike parking lots.
  • Random parking: Bike parking is tolerated in some locations around the island.
  • fietsen

    Photo by Flickr user Ron Layters

    In total I’d estimate there are about 6000 bike parking spots on the island. Locals know that it can be nearly impossible to find a place for your bike if you arrive at the station after rush hour so they take public transport instead. Cycling is also gaining in popularity in Amsterdam, recently accounting for more than 50% of trips made. Thus the need for bike storage always remains greater than the supply, despite constant additions. The city plans to reach 10,000 bike parking spots within a few years but it’s likely it will continue to remain at capacity.

    Nonetheless the city recognizes that cycling is still the most efficient and least resource intensive way to more people around the city. Passenger capacity of the trams, buses and metro are also being expanded but this is far more difficult and expensive. Getting to Amsterdam Centraal by car has already been rather hopeless for a long time.

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