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Amsterdam Is Out of Bike Parking

The city will create 40,000 new bike parking spaces by 2030

(Atli Mar Hafsteinsson/Masterfile/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Amsterdam is known for its canals, its coffeeshops and its thousands of bikes—up to 880,000 of them at last count. They zoom through narrow streets and line every street, bridge, and building. But now CityLab reports that the city is facing a logistical crisis—it’s run out of bike parking.

There’s a reason cyclists love Amsterdam. Take a relatively small city, add a dash of flat terrain and years of investment in cycling infrastructure, and you get bicycles for every age, shape, size and profession, plus a national culture that supports their daily us. But parking has become a huge problem, CityLab reports:

The problem is what to do with bikes when they arrive downtown. Inner Amsterdam is densely built with often narrow streets, and bicycles chained up randomly here and there can become a major headache. So infested is Amsterdam with wrongly parked bicycles that in 2013 the city had to remove a phenomenal 73,000 of them from the streets. This is expensive—it costs from €50 to €70 per bike, while owners pay €10-12 to retrieve them from the pound. The city could increase the release fee, of course, but Amsterdam is also a great place in which to buy a cheap used bike—there’s a sense that many local scofflaws would simply buy another before paying a large fine.

Now, the bike parking crunch has become so dire that the city has announced plans to build a massive underground garage for 7,000 bikes near the central train station. It’s part of a bigger initiative that create an additional 40,000 bike parking places and new paths, at a cost of more than $250,000.

Amsterdam's parking crisis has been looming for the past couple of years, and the city's already toyed with automated parking lots that would stash bikes underground or on roofs. If the current plan doesn't solve the problem, Amsterdam may have to be first city in the world to start encouraging carpooling by bike.

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