All about cycling in the Netherlands
The Amsterdam Beursplein (“Stock Exchange Square”) has been restored in a beautiful way. The 1903 square had been used as car parking space until 1982, after which it had been a sea of parked bicycles. Now the square is clear of most vehicles and its space can be used by people.
The big change took place last year. In July 2018 the underground bicycle parking garage was opened. (History repeated itself in a different form; in 1982 the cars were sent off the square when the parking garage of the Bijenkorf department store was opened in a corner of the square.) Beursplein was named after the stock exchange that was first located in the building designed by architect Berlage who also designed the square. That building was also used by other trade markets. Already in 1912 the Stock Exchange moved to a new, dedicated building at number 5. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange was the world’s first official (formal) stock exchange when it began trading the VOC’s freely transferable securities, including bonds and shares of stock in 1606.
Now that the north-south metro line was finally finished the streetscape from Central Station to the Dam and further south could be beautified. On this square the monumental street lanterns returned as well as the original benches, fountains (which were actually mangers where horses could drink) and other street furniture. All of it made from natural stone. Some trees had to be removed to dig the underground parking garage, so new trees were planted. The object was to create more space for walking and cycling and so most obstacles (including parked bicycles) needed to go. It is unfortunate that the car parking garage is still here, because that is almost the only reason cars can still use this city centre street and square.
The new bicycle parking garage entrance was also created from natural stone, to go well with the original street furniture of the square. The stairs and its walls look very luxurious because of this material. The garage is managed by the city and it is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week. It is guarded and the first 24 hours of parking are free. If you park longer you pay €1.25 per day. If you want to park your bicycle here on a regular basis and also for longer periods, an annual subscription may be more attractive. This costs €75 per year. There are two-tier racks for 1,700 bicycles. The only further amenity in this garage are toilets. You have to pay to use them but they could still be very convenient because for some obscure reason public toilets are rare in the Netherlands.
To make sure people park their bicycles here, a strict no parking regime for two-wheelers is in place in the streets in a wide zone around the square. This area includes nearby Dam Square. The parking ban is indicated with lines on the ground, no-parking signs and even cones on the street. Other signs guide people to the bicycle parking garage. Wrongly parked bicycles get tagged and they are removed within two hours after tagging. Wrongly parked scooters get a fine. I saw traffic wardens on the square doing this even on a rainy Wednesday almost a year after the facility was opened. When they saw people parking bicycles they told them to go to the garage instead. Only cargo bikes and bicycles for people with a disability (who wouldn’t be able to go down the stairs) are allowed on the street, but again only in designated spaces.
This was the first underground bicycle parking garage in the city centre of Amsterdam. There are already some others near the Amsterdam-Noord and Amsterdam-Zuid station for instance. More underground facilities are being constructed (such as the one near Leidseplein for 2,000 bicycles that should be finished in 2021). A huge bicycle parking garage at Central Station under the water is also under construction. That garage for 7,000 bicycles should also be finished in 2021. The local newspaper does wonder whether the Amsterdammers can be enticed to use these garages. Thanks to the enforced parking ban on Dam and Beursplein there are hardly any bicycles to be seen there, but on the other hand the garage is almost always only half full, a reporter wrote.
My video showing the underground bicycle parking garage of Beursplein in Amsterdam.