Temporary bicycle parking facility in Tilburg

The university city of Tilburg in the south of the Netherlands is one of the many Dutch cities in which the central station area is under extensive reconstruction. Because that reconstruction involved building a new underpass at the location of the bicycle parking facility, that facility had to be relocated. So a temporary facility was constructed on an abandoned platform, originally built for postal trains, but that was also used as a car parking area later.

Tilburg central station in the 1960s shortly after it was built. Note that the road in front of the station has no separated cycleways. They are there now.

Tilburg’s central station is used by 30,000 travellers per day. In 2020 that is expected to have risen to 40,000. To make the station future proof, two new underpasses under the existing and remaining monumental station hall from 1965 will be built. One for train passengers and a public one for people walking and cycling. That last underpass will connect to Willem II-straat. The passage will be 13 metres wide and 3 metres high. The reconstruction of the station is taking place right now and it is expected to be finished mid-2016.

The former location of the bicycle parking racks was on street-level. This is the location where the underpass entrance will be, so the racks had to go.

At the location of the entrance of the new public underpass, there used to be on-street and free bicycle parking racks. A foreign visitor filmed the old situation in 2011. These racks had to be relocated. This was done at the end of 2013 when new racks were temporarily placed on an abandoned platform, right next to track number 1. When the station was built, this was where the postal trains were loaded and unloaded. But when the postal trains were abolished it was turned into a car park. The car park has now been transformed into a bicycle parking facility.

The postal platform as it was meant to function. With a postal train that is being unloaded and loaded.
When postal trains were abolished the platform was turned into an underused car parking facility.
From late 2013 the former postal platform is in use to park bicycles.

The temporary facility has place to park 2,700 bicycles in double stacked racks. The racks are set up in rows creating a total of 23 aisles in between the racks. It is not the only bicycle parking facility. Right under this free and unguarded one there is a paid and guarded bicycle parking facility for another 2,000 bicycles. Not everybody was happy with the location of the temporary facility. To reach the level of the trains you have to go up 5 metre tall stairs to get there. Others found it too far from the tracks. But that I didn’t quite understand: since you are already on the level of the trains and you can take a short-cut to the platform, it seems you couldn’t get closer than that. Maybe people who need to be on other platforms complain. For those other platforms you have to go down first and then up again.

Originally there were plans to build a completely new bicycle parking facility at the other side of the tracks with paid parking. But views and policies regarding bicycle parking at stations in the Netherlands are changing rapidly. There is a tendency to build guarded but free parking facilities now. National and local governments are debating who has to pay for these facilities with the railway companies. So in Tilburg the plans were postponed indefinitely, to get this clear first.

The new public underpass to reach the other side of the rail-road tracks will be wide, open and light to enhance the feeling of social safety. It will have a separated bi-directional cycleway.

In the meantime, the underpass for train passengers was put in its place. In October 2014, the concrete ‘tube’, that was built next to the tracks, was carefully pushed forward 40 metres, to reach its final location, in one week, in the Autumn holidays. The tracks had to be removed for this operation and that meant there were no trains for an entire week. An interesting time-lapse shows how this was done. The construction of the public tunnel under this temporary bicycle parking facility didn’t go entirely as planned. One man was seriously injured in an incident. The causes would be investigated, but I have no information about results.

Part of the postal platform collapsed when the new tunnel was being constructed in October 2014. But when I shot the video everything was already repaired again. Picture courtesy of Tilburgers.nl

Now that the plans for the new bicycle parking facility are on hold, it could mean this temporary facility will be there a bit longer than the 3 years which were initially planned. But that is not unusual, the famous ‘bicycle flat’ in front of Amsterdam station was also supposed to be temporary and should have been removed long ago.

My video showing the temporary bicycle parking facility at the Tilburg Central Railway Station.

See also the post by Angela van der Kloof about bike parking at Tilburg’s central station. Tilburg used to have very innovative and modern cycling policies. I have shown you its long distance cycle route to Oisterwijk opened in 1977. This two-way cycle route, with its red asphalt, was far ahead of its time. More recently, Tilburg has lost a lot of its ambitions and its role at the forefront has been taken over by other cities.

7 thoughts on “Temporary bicycle parking facility in Tilburg

    1. They often don’t. I’d written off one bike and replaced it, only to recover it months later. I think someone might have moved it to make space for their own.

    2. Thus far I’ve always found my bike, but sometimes I do forget where I put it that morning with my sleepy head, but then I end up finding it after looking for a few minutes.

  1. This reminds me of the new underground bike parking garage here in Beverwijk, Noord-Holland. A much smaller town than Tilburg, with just 40.000 population. It used to be a bike chaos here at the train station, but now earlier this month they opened a free guarded underground bike parking garage in front of the station, with space for 2440 bikes. Even the stairs are heated, in case of it getting too slippery when cold. And there’s a few charging stations for electric bikes. You can see how it looks in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OzsPM2apnU

  2. Your first picture looks a bit like The Truman Show. Aaah, the sixties, when everything was bright and shiny and much better than now…. NOT.

  3. From David Hembrow’s recent posts I’d started to believe that even in the only real contestant for best cycling nation on Earth car-centric planning was starting to take root again. Glad to see this isn’t wholly the case (even if even the old situation was the sort of thing we can only dream of here).

    1. With all due respect to David Hembrow: I think the ‘view from the cycle path’ blog sometimes paints a rather negative picture. Even in the most car-friendly towns in the Netherlands road-designers will give some tribute to bike-safety. Not all cities are trying to increase cycling-traffic (allthough they will all claim they want to), but truth regression is almost unheard off (paths will be maintained). In spite off the crisis a lot of money (both in provinces, countrywide and on a community-level) is invested in cycling-infrastructure, which is still overall improving. At most you could say that you will always have hold-outs and exceptions. Just like every non-cycling country appears to have at least one city that occasionally elects someone that rows against the stream and builds cycling paths, you have in the Netherlands sometimes a (local) election that gives way to a more car-friendly ruling body. (And those local governments are at worst ‘bike-neutral’ never truly ‘anti-bike’.) Sure bike-traffic might decline a little without new investments. But I doubt you could find even one municipality in the Netherlands where the children don’t go to school on their bikes and that is not going to change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.