Somehow it just warms my heart to see thousands of city bikes lined up in endless rows. That requires about as much space as a supermarket or a small office building. Sometimes I wonder how big a parking facility for that many cars would be. I suppose the answer is that it would look rather like the vast sea of asphalt and cars that surrounds a big shopping mall: Occasionally full but usually mostly empty blackness… what a waste of space.
A Dutch bike parking facility, on the other hand, tends to remain remarkably full. Only after business hours does it thin out considerably. When I used to park my bike daily at the Amsterdam Fietsflat I almost always ended up walking all the way up to the upper level since I came in toward the end of the “rush hour”. The lowest level was perpetually crammed with crappy student bikes, often two or three per “official” space.
Of course there’s bike parking all over the city but most of the really big units are at train stations since lots of people ride their bikes to take a train to another town. That might be to “commute” to a job in another town, but it’s often also students who move back and forth between the university in one town and “home-home” in another. They might even keep an old bike at each end. I suppose one could say that this is a misuse of public space, but it could be easily argued that it’s really very, very little space. Any other means of transport also requires some use of public space and resources as well.
I couldn’t find any pictures of the brand new Haarlem station fietsenstalling so this artist’s rendering will have to do for now.
This morning I read in the Fietsberaad Newsbrief that a new that the city of Haarlem has just opened a new fietsenstalling (“fietsen” = “bikes”, “stalling” = “parking”, as in stalls for horses). With spaces for 5050 bikes they claim it to be the biggest in Europe. Certainly it is bigger than the famous and constantly photographed “Fietsflat” by Amsterdam Central Station, which somehow typically holds about 4000 bikes in 2500 spaces. But the “biggest in Europe” might be a bit of hyperbole since there’s already at least one other fietsenstalling with about 5000 spaces: the Stadsbalkon in Groningen. But I’d be surprised to hear about any other facilities in the western world (but outside Holland) that even approach these numbers.
Ironically, both of these new facilities will probably operate at capacity within a couple years since, like auto traffic, the demand seems to follow the supply.
Speaking of getting more bikes on the street, Workcycles has just begun a historic clearance sale on a bunch of bikes and gear. After eight years in business it’s just time to simultaneously make some space and make some customers happy with some great deals. At the top of the list are no less than four ex-rental/demo Cargobikes (all Long versions) in great shape. Also on offer are Monark Trucks and Long Johns and a whole bunch of parts and accessories. The bikes can be seen here:
Workcycles Clearance Sale
And the parts and accessories will be added in the coming days and weeks. Expect to see: lights, panniers, tires, saddles, locks, child seats and plenty of random but perfectly usable components.