In the inner city and at stations, there is insufficient room to park a bicycle. However, measures are being taken to deal with this, the administration assures. The problem is persistent: year after year, the message has remained the same. Meanwhile, new spaces are added, but bicycle parks may disappear as well.
“Bicycle parking is the greatest challenge we face with regard to bicycle policy”, says policy advisor Geert de Jong. “You can’t solve it just like that.”
In 2006, the municipality for the first time conducted a survey among cyclists, which has since been repeated every year. In each edition, respondents say they are not satisfied with bicycle parking in the inner city and at stations. In fact, they have only become more critical over the years. Each year, measures are announced.
2007: Alderman Tjeerd Herrema (PvdA)
“Unsatisfactory marks for bicycle parking in the inner city and at metro and railway stations. The Long-Range Policy Paper focuses especially on expanding and improving bicycle parking facilities, with an emphasis on destinations (such as shopping and entertainment areas and public transport nodes). Further, in order to contribute to improving bicycle parking facilities, a Policy Framework on Bicycle Parking is in the making.”
2008: Alderman Tjeerd Herrema (PvdA)
“With the Long-Range Policy Paper and the Policy Framework on Bicycle Parking set in 2007, the administration, in collaboration with the districts and the Amsterdam Urban Region, is putting heavy emphasis on expanding and improving bicycle parking facilities in the inner city and at important public transport nodes. For example, the feasibility of new bicycle parks (Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein and Museumplein among others) is being studied and agreements are being reached with Dutch Railways and ProRail on improving bicycle parking facilities at railway stations in the city. The target is to have new bicycle parks at at least five public attractions.”
2009: Alderman Hans Gerson (PvdA)
“Except in people’s own neighbourhood (6.2 out of 10), bicycle parking in the inner city and at both train and metro stations and at bus and tram stops gets unsatisfactory marks (ranging from 4.6 to 5.6). This accentuates the importance of expanding and improving bicycle parking facilities at major public transport nodes, as included in the Long-Range Policy Paper on Cycling.”
2010: Alderman Hans Gerson (PvdA)
“Except in people’s own neighbourhoods (6.3), bicycle parking in the inner city and at both train and metro stations and at bus and tram stops gets unsatisfactory marks (ranging from 4.5 to 5.5). This confirms the importance of expanding and improving bicycle parking facilities at major public transport nodes as included in the Long-Range Policy Paper on Cycling. The Amsterdam Municipality collaborates with involved parties including Prorail, Dutch Railways and districts to improve bicycle parking at stations of Dutch Railways.”
Meanwhile, progress has in fact been made. Guarded bicycle parks have been added in the inner city and floating bicycle parks have been created north of Central Station. At that location, a second bicycle flat had been planned, but this plan was abandoned because it was too expensive. At the pontoon to the north-west of the station, there are usually spaces available.
Amsterdam further tries to do something about the shortage of bicycle racks by removing disused bicycles. Each year, districts remove 40 to 50,000 bicycles. The Waste Act has been adapted so as to make it easier to remove bicycles. “But at some locations, it’s banging your head against a brick wall.”
At the longer term, ProRail plans to create three bicycle parks near Central Station, with room for 10,000 bicycles. By comparison, the temporary bicycle flat south of the station has an official capacity of 2,500.
Meanwhile, new alderman Eric Wiebes (VVD) has succeeded Gerson. It will be up to him to explain to the council whether bicycle parks may indeed disappear. Fietsverkeer Magazine recently suggested as much, because the parks use subsidized labour which is becoming more expensive due to changes in regulations.
Whether this will indeed lead to the closure of bicycle parks is as yet unclear. De Jong: “Amsterdam has to make enormous budget cuts, that’s for sure. I don’t know yet what the consequences will be.”