“Where do people in the Netherlands park their bicycles at home?” asked one of the participants of the congress in Barcelona* that I visited last week. My answer was visually awe-inspiring. “It has been in the building regulations for over 50 years that every home must have a place to store bicycles.” I have written about mandatory home side bicycle parking before. Most homes in the city core of Barcelona, however, are much older than half a century and that led to the counter question: “But what do people do who live in older homes?”. “Well, such people have to find other solutions. My own bicycle sits right behind the front door of my over 400-year-old house.” was my reply. But you aren’t always on your own on this matter, some municipalities provide another type of home side parking. Why don’t I show you one of the other solutions in this short post week: a neighbourhood bicycle parking facility!
One of the many groups I toured with this summer was a group of Irish people. Their cycle tour was organised by André Pettinga, from Cyclemotions, who has consulted for Irish authorities. (He arranged this tour together with Cian Ginty.) André lives in one of the pre-WWII neighbourhoods in Utrecht, one where not all the homes have bicycle parking facilities. In such neighbourhoods the city of Utrecht has created so-called “buurtstallingen”, literally “neighbourhood bicycle parking facilities”. Since André uses one, he has the key and could show the group the inside of such a “home side” bicycle parking space. I always have a camera with me, so that means I can now show you too!
Compared to some of the large end-of-trip bicycle parking garages I have shown you here, this facility is tiny and located in what seems to have been a former neighbourhood shop. But still, 58 bicycles can be placed here, so it is helping as many people with their bicycle storage challenge. The city of Utrecht manages 36 neighbourhood facilities in the older neighbourhoods, with in total 1,879 bicycle parking spaces.
To rent a place in one of these facilities you can apply with an internet form. The spaces currently cost €40.72 for one year. The subscription can only be per year and indefinite. (Meaning you cannot rent a place for just one month, for instance, but you can terminate your subscription by the month.) Your bicycle gets a metal tag with a number that corresponds with a specific place. You really have your own designated space that you alone can use. Subscription holders get a key to the facility that is not guarded in another way. Key holders are therefore asked to always lock the front door carefully and it is forbidden to give the key to anyone else. It is also not allowed to lend out your space to other people. You only rent a space for a bicycle, so it is also not allowed to put other belongings in the facility.
Bicycle hangars are another type of home-side bicycle parking, you can find those all over the Netherlands as well, but neighbourhood bicycle parking facilities can store many more bicycles. Utrecht is not the only city to have these facilities. They also exist in Amsterdam and other larger Dutch cities.
This week’s short video shows a neighbourhood bicycle parking facility in Utrecht.
* I was speaker and participant at the Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) “Transitioning towards more liveable cities. The Post-Car City”, which took place on 25, 26 and 27 October at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University. I will publish a blog post about my trip to Barcelona shortly.