Bike parking in Holland: Installment 2

WorkCycles classic ladies bike with flowers

Last week I posted a quick photo essay on where the more than a million bicycles of Amsterdam live. The answer was basically: everywhere except inside.

The following day this article about the same Amsterdam “Fietsflat” appeared in the Washington Post. Their photo isn’t very interesting so I added one of my own. The Bloemfiets (flower bike), once built from parts found in the trash for a long-ago girlfriend is now a loaner at the WorkCycles shop. It shows one way to decorate your bicycle so that it won’t get lost amongst the thousands of bikes parked on the street here. Its seems to be a pretty good theft deterrent too.

2,500 Bikes Look a Lot Alike At Amsterdam Central
By Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, June 15, 2007; Page A16


“I thought it was right here.”

Mireille has that I’m-worried-but-I’m-not-going-to- panic-yet look on her face. It’s 5:40 p.m., the top of the afternoon rush hour, and she’s been searching for only two minutes.

She’s lost her bicycle in the Amsterdam Central train station’s high-rise bike lot, where 2,500 two-wheelers are crammed pedal-to-pedal, handlebar-to-handlebar on five soaring levels.

Mireille, with a purse the color of scrambled eggs thumping against her salmon faux-leather jacket, is pacing the row where she’s certain she left her bike. The row looks like an impenetrable web of spokes and bars and wheels. She starts to offer her full name, but thinks better of it. She’s embarrassed. She’s 39 and works for the city.

She confesses that she was in a hurry this morning and double-parked, jamming her bike into the narrow space between two legally parked cycles. She was unable to wrap her lock around the bike stand. At Amsterdam Central, that’s an invitation to the owner of one of the other bikes to rip out yours and stash it in another illegal space 30 bikes away, just to teach you a lesson.

“It’s here somewhere. . . . It’s a gray bike,” Mireille offers hopefully, adding, “with a black thing.”

A black thing? The flat metal seat over the back wheel.

The Netherlands, a country as flat as a pool table, has more bicycles than people: an estimated 20 million bikes, and just over 16 million humans. There are three times as many bicycles as cars. Virtually every road has a bicycle lane. Virtually no one wears a helmet.

The bike garage at Amsterdam Central, which won an architectural award for its winding levels of bicycle stands that jut over a wide canal, is one of the country’s busiest.

That’s about as much as I can post within “fair-use” rules but you can see the whole article here in the Washington Post.

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