Bicycle Parking policies Zaanstad ridiculed

The enforcement of the bicycle parking restrictions in Zaandam was ridiculed on national TV this week. Zaanstad municipality issued a parking restriction of 4 hours for a street in the centre of Zaandam, the largest city in the municipality. The street is near the railway station and the city claims the bike parking space is filled with the bicycles of commuters who refuse to use the facilities at the station. But how do you check which bikes are from commuters and which belong to shoppers with every right to park their bicycles? For that the city uses the tried and tested system of labelling the bikes, but as the video shows – to the amusement of a studio audience – that can be easier said than done. One clue beforehand: it is always very windy in the Netherlands!

Zaanstad’s bicycle parking ‘problems’ were ridiculed on national TV this week

With this sign combined with the text below it, Zaanstad restricts bicycle parking in the centre.

It is very understandable to laugh about this failed attempt to label a bike right, but what is behind all this is no reason for laughing at all. After I visited Zaanstad last year, I already wrote there was a fierce debate going on about the bicycle parking policies of the city. The local branch of the Cyclists’ Union was against what they deemed the illegal removal of “wrongly” parked bicycles. They were also against the so-called ‘blue boxes’ for parking. A blue square painted on the pavement is not what they see as a good bicycle parking facility. There is nothing to attach your bicycle to, making it easy for others to remove it (it is not only at risk of being stolen; someone could also easily place it outside the box and then the city would remove it). The wind was also mentioned: bicycles have already been damaged after the wind caused a domino effect of tripped over bicycles.

It is clear many people do not understand the motivations of the local council. The woman in the video sums it up nicely when she says: “What a ridiculous idea!”

The city did do something about its policies. But nothing changed for the better. The city made sure they could legally confiscate bicycles that were parked for longer than 4 hours by publishing a municipal decision in the Staatscourant. The national “paper” (now website) in the Netherlands in which laws and regulations must be published to be legally effective. The publication was on the 1st of February 2013 and as the video shows the city now started enforcing the regulations too. At least they try…

It is strange to look at this from the outside. Seeing bicycle parking as a problem rather than as a solution is odd. Would the city rather have all these people arriving by car? They should tackle the cause of the problem. Apparently there isn’t enough room to park bicycles near the station. Or at least the facilities provided there are not meeting the demand in one way or the other. It would be best if the Zaanstad municipality would use all the money and energy that go into this enforcement of the bicycle parking restrictions in efforts to make sure those bicycles can be parked the way cyclists want them to park.

14 thoughts on “Bicycle Parking policies Zaanstad ridiculed

  1. I actually don’t see how this sign is legitimate.
    There is no ‘parking disc’ for bicycles, so there’s no way to check whether the bikes are stored for an amount of time.
    Just like park signs for cars with “5min” or “15min” below it is not useful and doesn’t hold in front of the judge, since this is regulated in RVV1990 article 24. In face it was even removed from RVV1966 with this as supplement:

    Onderdeel d, nieuw, vervangt onderdeel h, oud. De tijds­duurbeperking van onderdeel h is hierbij niet overgenomen in verband met controleproblemen. Een tijdsbeperking dient langs andere Weg (parkeerschijf, parkeermeter) te worden aangege­ven. In plaats daarvan opent het onderdeel de mogelijkheid op een onderbord aan te geven op welke momenten van de parkeer­gelegenheid geen gebruik mag worden gemaakt (bij voorbeeld op marktdagen)

    So a limit of time use is not allowed, except when a parking meter or parking disc is available. Since a parking disc doesn’t exist they need to add a parking meter or some other kind of perfectly working control possibilites before they can add a time restriction of 4hours.
    With the current sign it’s not allowed to park your bike at all between 19h and 7h.

    So, send article 24 to Zaanstad with the supplement and show why their sign is not legitimate, even when it’s mentioned in the Staatscourant.

    1. Oh, and their labelling system is not exact of course. It would only be fine when they would add a ticket machine which would add a specific time on the ticket.
      But still then, these tickets can get stolen so it’s just not waterproof.
      The labels can be put on other bikes.. Currently there’s no way to do this except for closed cycle parkings where others cannot touch other bikes.

  2. On a recent visit to Amsterdam, outside a station close’ish to the city centre, we saw what must have been thousands of bicycles parked up. The space was so full, I’d be surprised if anyone managed to free their bicycle upon their return.

    I’m sure that in that prk, there were many bikes that were both very old (as in they hadn’t been collected), and broken ones too.

    How can the municipal authorities remove these bicycles, without some form of personal bicycle identification? Though tagging them has it’s difficulties, what else can they do? New bicycles cannot park and current cyclists are needlessly hindered by these unloved old cycles.

    1. The city of Amsterdam uses stickers to check for abandoned bicycles; every so often (I’m not sure how often) they tag all bicycles; anyone still using their bicycle has to remove the sticker. After 14 (near the station) or 28 days (elsewhere) they remove all bicycles which still have a sticker, so none of the bicycles you’ve seen there will have been there for ages.

      1. Indeed. Bicycles that are removed in Amsterdam are kept in the Fietsdepot (formerly AFAC) for 3 months. To give you an impression on the amounts of bicycles removed (due to incorrect placement, occupying a place for too long, or when a bike is deemed ‘broken’), this is how the depot looks like (and all of these were collected in the 3 months before) :

  3. Excellent post, good timing!
    For Velo-city in Vienna I’m making an overview of the lessons the Dutch learned from bike parking at shopping centers. As it focusses on guarded indoor parking, street parking is a side effect. You can try to ignore it, or try to snatch the illegal parked bicycles, but the best solution is of course to accommodate the overwhelming amount of bicycles in proper facilities. And that will cost space, and money. It is difficult for Dutch politicians to imagine that also a cheap solution like the bike can cost the community a lot of money when it comes to big numbers. But they forget the benefits of cycling in general and a vivid city center. It seems that I have to make a Dutch copy too.

  4. It’s not just Zaandam that finds it difficult to cope. Just read this morning that Amsterdam is considering a ban of cyclists from the ferries between Central Station and Noord, the part of town across the water, as these ferries are overcrowded during peak hours. And a council member for Green Left (!) in Utrecht seems to have proposed to ban cyclists from Oudegracht in favour of pedestrians. I’m not familiar with details nor specific circumstances but it all sounds a bit unconsiderate (cyclists in Amsterdam would need to make an enormous detour to avoid the ferry).

    1. “Just read this morning that Amsterdam is considering a ban of cyclists from the ferries between Central Station and Noord”

      That’s not true! They are just increasing bicycling parking space on the other side of the ferry, hoping(!) that some people will leave their bike there. The ferries are currently very crowded, but they expect usage to drop after the noordzuidlijn has opened (2017), so increasing capacity is not cost-effective.

      1. I wrote I wasn’t familiar with details … Anyhow, creating more parking space in Noord will hardly bring relief as no one riding a bike from Noord (a mostly residential area) to town will leave his bike in Noord and take public transport for the main part of his journey. What Amsterdam needs is a tunnel or a bridge for cyclists, or larger ferries. For readers who understand Dutch:
        in particular the comments (“Gemeente wil minder fietsen op de pont” = Amsterdam wants fewer bicycles on ferry).

  5. If they really think there should be some kind of parking-policy for cyclists, the least they could do is to come up with someone that might work. This alderman Linnekamp is from the Green Left party; where are his priorities? His party is supposed to cuddle us!

  6. Leuk, Mark (en DWDD)!

    Last time I was in Zaandam I took a photo of one single bike parked among dozens of empty racks in the shopping street. There seems to be plenty of parking there – though maybe not enough around the station.

    I also noticed a number of signs warning of the danger of bicycle theft – now we know who the culprits are!

  7. That’s almost as ridiculous as our newly elected (by 14%) Tory police commissioner here in Cambridgeshire, who’s first priority is to catch all cyclists riding on the pavement. Never mind making the roads safer to be on in the first place, (speeding, texting, mobile-talking, pavement parking, abusive, aggressive motorists appear to be well down the list).

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