Convenience is one of the main reasons for the Dutch to cycle as much as they do. They take their bike to go shopping because it is easier, faster and more convenient than taking the car or another mode of transport. In order to get cycling this convenient you need good infrastructure, safe streets and a place to park your bicycle at that grocery store or any other end-destination. But it all begins at home! Your bicycle must be ready to use quickly and in a convenient way. If someone had to carry a heavy Dutch bicycle three floors down from an apartment, to cycle 5 minutes to the store, you can be sure that person will find an easier mode of transport to get to that shop. But in the Netherlands people mostly have their bicycles readily available and that is because building regulations make sure that most of the Dutch have a perfect place to store their bicycles in or near their home.
The regulations have existed since about 1950, first in municipal regulations and from 1992 as national regulations. Not only do they state the specific dimensions of a bicycle storage room but, even more important, they state the storage room must have direct access to the public road. That means that if you live in a post 1950 home in the Netherlands you do not have to store your bicycle in your living quarters at a higher floor, but that you can use a room that can be reached much easier.
The current Dutch Building Regulations are as follows:
Section 4.5 Outside storage, new buildings
Article 4.30 Regulating article
1. A home must have a space to store bicycles protected from the weather.
2. A home meets the requirement of paragraph 1 if the space is constructed according to the regulations in this section.
Article 4.31 Availability, access and measurements
1. A building with the main function of habitat must have -as a sub-function- a private lockable storage space of at least 5 square meters with a width of at least 1.8 meters and a height over this width of at least 2.3 meters.
2. Notwithstanding paragraph 1, the storage room may be shared, when the habitat function of the dwelling does not exceed 40 square meters and the storage space for each dwelling is at least 1.5 square meters.
3. The storage room has to be directly accessible from the public road or from a shared private area that gives direct access to the public road.
Article 4.32 Rain resistance
The external construction of a storage space as described in article 4.31 has to be rain resistant according to the regulations of NEN 2778.
From 2003 the regulations were lifted from the building regulations. Developers claimed they – and the market – could decide what was best and wanted. But immediately you saw developers cut costs by striking the bicycle parking facility from especially their apartment buildings. The Fietsersbond, the Dutch Cyclists’ Union, protested right away and politicians, especially those in the larger cities, agreed fairly quickly that this was an unwanted phenomenon that also contradicted the policies to stimulate cycling. Already in 2008 the minister agreed that the bicycle storage requirements had to get back in the regulations and they were indeed finally re-instated from early 2012.
These building regulations are just another example of how embedded cycling is in Dutch society. Everything is aimed at making cycling convenient for large groups of people. If you want people cycling from A to B, it begins with good bicycle parking at the starting point of any cycle journey: their homes. Oh, and of course it also helps that the average Dutch bicycle is always ready to ride…
The video explains how the Dutch can park their bicycles at their homes.