Dutch bicycle parking: From on-street to multi-story

DUTCH CYCLING SERIES: When in the Netherlands looking at Dutch cycling, our guides showed us larger bicycle parking units at train stations, but more of an all-round look at Dutch bicycle parking is important…

If anything shows typical Amsterdam parking it’s this: Bicycles parked against railings beside one of Amsterdam’s many canals:

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Much of the bicycle parking is incidental — you can’t plan for it and there’s little need to in smaller towns and villages. Like this bicycle parked on its kickstand outside a shop in a Dutch town:


The above bicycle may not look like it’s locked, but we’re nearly sure that the frame lock is shut. A frame lock is attached to the bicycle’s frame and, when locked, it stops the wheel from moving. It’s a method of locking a bicycle — which depending on the bicycle and the area — can be ok for popping into a shop, or, for parking longer in a big city, it can be a good secondary lock:


One type of bicycle a wheel lock is even more effective on is a cargo bicycle (as it’s harder to walk away with one on your shoulder), and we found tens of cargo bicycles locked this way while being parked beside a path in the middle of Amsterdam’s popular Vondelpark:


With so many bicycles in the Netherlands you can see how bicycle parking can quickly become an issue in urban areas. While erratic bicycle parking is already an issue in central Dublin, the scale of the problem has to potential to be much worse in the Netherlands. Take for example the amount of bicycles on this small street:


It’s why Dutch cities have put in place a system of tagging bicycles left in busy areas for too long. The tag is aimed at warning the owner that their bicycle looks abandoned and will be removed if its not moved:


Below is a type of bicycle locker we reported on last week, as Dublin City Council is set to trial the same sized locks on-street in residential areas. This example is pictured in Utrecht, the city has around 80 of the units which residents can rent a space in for a little under €60 per year:


Utrecht also has this parking facility in the city centre, which has take over use of a vacant shop unit, sadly we only passed it fairly late at night when it was closed:


Lots of the bicycle parking in the Netherlands is outside, like this university parking pictured below, pictured at summer time when there’s few students on campus:


And outdoor parking is similar at train stations, like this one:


And this station:


But usually there’s also more secure, guarded parking and other services provided indoors, such as electric charging points for electric bicycles. Here’s the inside bicycle parking at Amsterdam Amstel train station:


Bicycle shops are also common in train stations, often with rental of the rail-linked OV-fiets bicycle share – the blue and yellow bicycles in the foreground, which we will cover in a later article:


And this is a short video of parking at Amsterdam Amstel train station, showing normal rack spaces, and ending with moped and cargo bicycle spaces:

At the largest train stations the high-density bicycle racks are repeated over a wider area, including over a number of floors. As with this example at Amsterdam central station:


The high-density bicycle racks are easier to use than it looks at first. This example is underneath the ‘Student Hotel‘ which provides a Vanmoof bicycle to students as part of their lease and offers rentals to short-term stay residents:


The Student Hotel has a fairly stark warning for those who attempt to use its guest outdoor parking:


At Vanmoof’s HQ, on the other side of Amsterdam, the company’s employees demonstrate how its bicycles are designed to be kept outdoors, as is common in central Amsterdam (this is employee parking which we walked by, we were not shown it):


This series on Dutch cycling will continue, covering issues such as public bicycle sharing the Dutch way, a city smaller than Dublin planning 22,000 bicycles spaces at its train station, why we are more like the Dutch than we think, and more. Check some of the other articles in the series:

IMAGES: Typical Dutch cycling
IMAGES: Dutch cycle paths; And how we can stop getting it so horribly wrong
IMAGES: How the Dutch allow bicycles to flow like water
IMAGES: How Dutch bicycles are designed to carry what people need

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  1. I noticed that a lot of the formal parking at transport hubs was ‘toast-rack’ type that we all hate.
    Two main issues with deployment of toast-racks is (1) thy are not good with the main bike models here (sports, city, hybrid) using derailleur gears and narrow wheels and (2) the inter-slot distances are not wide enought so it’s hard to get between adjaent bikes – you get caught on locking handlebars (rubber grips stick to clothing!) and when you bend down to lock the bike to the slot you get oil/soil on your clothers and hands.
    We need to head these off at design and planning stages.

  2. Being born and raised in Belgium, all these pictures look so natural to me. You should be able to leave your bicycle anywhere as long as it is not an obstruction. I used to cycle to the shop, family or friends and park it right in front.

    I do not mind the “toast-racks” as it allows for many bicycles close to each other. They are not really any hassle or difficult to get into as they are on two levels, one up, one down, one up,… so the distance between handlebars is large enough so they do not get caught.

    In general, in Belgium and The Netherlands, bicycles are regarded as a tool that can show a bit of damage where here a lot of cyclist treat it more as a luxury item that needs to be protected. Hence that the former do not really kick up a fuss about the place they leave it.

    All of my later bikes had what you call a frame lock only and none was ever stolen. We call that a “ringslot” or ring lock, by the way.
    I also like that the pictures show several examples of how bicycles are regarded as part of the cityscape and even civilisation as a whole.

    We have a far way to go here in Ireland.

    • Always nice to hear personal expereinces from other countries.

      The standard ‘toast-rack’ type sold in Ireland has slots with only 300 mm inter-slot distances – I know from wide personal experience that these are sub-standard and if your bike and the adjoining one has straight handlebars (touring or MTB) that you cant fit between them easily to reach down to fit the lock to your bike frame and the slot.

      I can bring you to see these useless types!

  3. “… to be much worse in the Netherlands. Take for example the amount of bicycles on this small street:”
    Now replace all those bikes by cars. That will be really worse. ;-)

  4. We are a Carlow based company that have designed Cyc-lok – a publicly accessible, secure, access controlled, individual bike locker system that is cloud based, non subscription and accessed via our app. We are in Pearse Street station and in Heuston station and are attempting to get DCC to role out our lockers for secure parking in Dublin city.


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