All about cycling in the Netherlands
Like many cities of the Netherlands, Nijmegen suffered from a shortage of bicycle parking spaces in the central station area. That is why an extra bicycle parking facility for almost 4,000 bicycles was built. It was opened in December 2014, but it is underused; people don’t seem to find it.
The new indoor facility is open 24 hours per day, seven days of the week. It is free to use and the parked bicycles are guarded. The facility was built according to the latest standards about bicycle parking, with regards to the width of the corridors, the height of the space, the way daylight enters it and the fact that people can ride into the facility. All the individual racks have detectors which makes it possible to indicate the number of free spaces per row, but it also gives the managers the opportunity to monitor how long every bicycle was parked in a rack. This way they can detect possibly abandoned bicycles that can then be removed.
The facility was built in the basement of ‘Doornroosje’ which is a music hall where pop bands from around the globe perform. The pop temple has existed for decades, but this new hall was only opened 2 months earlier. The entire building was designed as one multi-purpose building. On top of the pop music hall there are also 350 student housing units. Visitors of the concerts and residents of the student housing units can also park their bicycles in the new facility.
The facility is very brightly coloured. The colour scheme on the walls, pillars and floor is actually a work of art named “Talia” that was designed by artist Jan van der Ploeg (Amsterdam 1959). Another of his works is the wall painting in the museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
With the opening of this facility the total number of racks around Nijmegen central station reached 10,000.
After about one month the local newspaper reported that there was something special about this facility. Even though the other racks around Nijmegen station were always full to over capacity, strangely this facility remained empty. At some times it was only filled for about one quarter.
When the reporters asked people desperately searching for a free spot for their bicycles in the other racks, they got a lot of surprised looks. Not many people seemed to know about the new facility. The entrance is a bit hidden even though it is directly near the entrance ramps of the Snelbinder bridge. The city of Nijmegen did all it could to get more people to use the facility. They put up banners – that were first stolen and then replaced – and they even handed out free concert tickets to attract more people.
It may be a matter of time. It may also be that the facility is just a bit too far from the entrance of the station. It is not far from the platforms, it is actually right next to one of them. I noticed that when I was waiting for the train in Nijmegen one day, but you have to walk across the entire square and then back again inside the station. Just opening a gate to get a shortcut would already make this facility a lot more attractive to a lot of people leaving from platform 1a. But then these travellers don’t go past the station hall facilities so the Railways risk fewer sales to these people. That is considered a problem. But ProRail also paid 2.5 million Euro to build this parking facility. So they may want to see it become successful. The now dissolved city-region Arnhem-Nijmegen contributed another 1.5 million Euro.
My video showing the Doornroosje bicycle parking facility in Nijmegen
People do usually need some time to change their habits. So I am sure that the new facility will eventually be found and used by more people. That 1,500 temporary outside racks near the station have been removed recently will already make a difference.