Several years ago while I was doing a project with design students at Technical University Eindhoven I met Jelle Zijlstra of Zijlstra Industrial Design. He’d designed the “Fietshangar“, a protective bicycle parking unit that replaces half a car parking spot. The concept is brilliant and philosophically I just love the idea that a single car parking space will be replaced by ten bike parking places. There are already a few hundred Fietshangars in use in various Dutch and Belgian cities and several hundred more are scheduled to be installed.
It is estimated that some 900,000 bikes are stolen each year in the Netherlands, about half of which were parked outside at home (statistics from CBS). Our experience selling city bikes at WorkCycles suggests that the perceived risk that a bike will be stolen (or vandalized or damaged) has a considerable influence on both cycling behavior and the sales of bicycles; There are a few people who’ve given up cycling after having their umpteenth bike stolen but more often people simply choose to ride crappy bikes to avoid theft and minimize the loss if their bike gets stolen anyway. The theft problem does vary widely by location; As expected it’s not a big problem in more upscale urban neighborhoods and certainly not in the villages and smaller cities. In the urban neighborhoods with mostly social housing and sketchier areas of the city center bike theft and destruction is really a plague. Just to note: The question of why fewer immigrants ride bikes comes up frequently but I’ve never seen anybody take into consideration that the areas with the highest concentrations of immigrant populations are lousy places to leave a bike outdoors. Few people have an indoor place to store a bike thus that tram gets more attractive each time you walk outside and find either your bike with a wheel flattened to the ground, your bike with the saddle slashed open, or no bike at all.
Thus the Fietshangar offers a solution for those (potential) cyclists who live where their bike otherwise wouldn’t be safe. There are two versions: A standard model that offers a basic level of protection, and the heavier duty, more secure Fietshangar+. The latter version is normally installed by a city.
I’m not sure whether Fietshangars have been installed outside the Benelux but if you’re interested you can contact the manufacturer: Heimerink Wagemakers. Their site’s in Dutch but the contact info is at the bottom of each page.