All about cycling in the Netherlands
Leiden is reconstructing the area around its Central Railway Station. One of the new buildings on Stationsplein (Station square) will have a basement with space to park nearly 5,000 bicycles. The building site is currently being prepared. The actual building will start in the summer of 2016 and the opening of this large facility is expected in 2018.
I was in Leiden quite some time ago and filmed how people could park their bicycles at that moment. For reasons I forgot I never used that footage, but with the news of the new bicycle parking facility I thought it would be nice to show you the images after all. Like most cities in the Netherlands, Leiden has a lot of bicycle parking racks all around the station. The location I filmed is just one of those facilities. It is the one closest to the main entrance, in fact it is right in front of it and it is combined with the taxi stand. The taxis drive on a deck a bit over ground level, the bicycles can be parked a bit below ground level.
When I filmed this half outdoors parking facility it was completely open and not guarded. It was also not the best looking facility I have shown you and it seemed to be filled well over capacity. But things have changed. Early 2015 the city of Leiden did a lot of maintenance on this facility. They cleaned it and made sure that (seemingly) abandoned bicycles were removed. They also closed the entrance at the Station entrance side and introduced supervision. With someone at the gate, the operating times were changed from open 24/7 to open from 6am to 1am every day. The object was to reduce the number of bicycles parked outside the racks and to give pedestrians more walking space on the station square.
The reopening was in June 2015 and the local press reports that everybody started to complain right away. Since the entrance on the station side was closed, people had to ride all the way to the other side to get in. That was not all. The city forgot to make an entrance for pedestrians. So after you parked your bicycle you had to walk all the way back to the wrong side, get out and walk all the way to the station entrance again, on the street. The city had to admit that that was a bit much and they created an entrance for pedestrians at the station side after all.
This was to be a trial for 3 months, but I see on the website of the city that the situation is still like that. So apparently they have kept this facility as it was in the trial: a guarded bicycle parking facility, with limited opening times, but free to use.
My video of the half underground bicycle parking facility at Leiden Centraal Station.
Now a bit more information about that new bicycle parking facility. There had long been empty space, right at the station square, that had to be redeveloped . The gap looked really ugly. For a number of reasons it took years before a plan could materialise, but now finally a building is going to be built. In the typical developer’s language: “The area’s transformation will create an attractive urban space in which the old inner city is reconnected with the Central Station, introducing a worthy entrance into the city of Leiden.” The large building will have several functions. The lower floors cover the entire plot and are more public with offices and shops. There will be three towers on top of the plinth in different heights. Two of the towers are purely residential, the third is an office building. Apparently the tallest tower will have 16 floors, which is a lot for a historic city centre in The Netherlands.
The 55,000 square metre building also includes a parking garage for cars, but the basement floor will be entirely used for a bicycle parking facility. Rows and rows of stacked racks will give room to park nearly 4,000 bicycles. The entrance will be at the station square. This will be a very attractive location to park your bicycle if you want to travel further by train. Combining bicycle and train travel is very common in the Netherlands.
But people will have to have a bit of patience. Building will commence this summer (after the building site has been prepared, something that has been going on since the end of last year). The bicycle parking facility in the basement is expected to open in 2018.
The website of the city of Leiden offers a presentation of this building in PDF.