Increasing the number of bike parking spots
They’re everywhere you look: from railings to benches and road signs, bicycles can be found parked all over cities, squeezed into the tiniest available spaces.
With cycling on the rise throughout Europe, bike devotees are struggling to find enough safe spots to lock up their trusty steeds. So how are European capitals solving the problem? Close-up on the initiatives set up by Paris, Brussels and Copenhagen to increase the number of bike parking spots for residential buildings as well as in public spaces.
Fighting theft in Paris
French people are increasingly taking up cycling, and many more are expected to join the movement, since the government launched a four-year bicycle plan in September 2018 aimed at tripling bike use in the overall mix of travel solutions chosen by the French. However, a few obstacles are holding people back from jumping on the saddle, especially concern over road safety, followed by fear of theft. According to nonprofit Vélo Perdu, which helps reunite owners with bikes found by municipal services, the national police, the gendarmerie and individuals, around 400,000 bicycles are stolen every year in France.
More space in buildings
Olivier Schneider, President of the French bicycle users federation, is delighted about the mobility strategy bill voted in by the French National Assembly in June 2019, because the proposed legislation places great importance on cycling. “Where to park bikes is a major issue all over France, but especially in a city as dense as Paris,” he says. And the new rule for apartment buildings is good news for cyclists, too, stating that bike shelters may be installed at the request and expense of a renter, provided that there is enough communal space. This means that tenants would no longer need to gain the approval of a majority of the building’s co-owners to set up a safe place to store their bicycles. The legislation is currently pending implementation.
Boxes in Brussels
In the Belgian capital, bike boxes – iron cabins the size of a small car – seem to have sprung up everywhere, across 17 of Brussels’ 19 municipalities. The cycloparking.brussels platform, set up in 2016 to manage and develop the secured parking spaces, explains that the boxes are aimed exclusively at regular cyclists who have nowhere to lock up their bikes other than in the street. They are not designed for longer-term storage. Users can access them with a code for a subscription fee of €60 a year, plus a €20 deposit for a magnetic pass card. The boxes have been a resounding success – so much so that residents in some municipalities have to join very lengthy waiting lists.
Gigantic bike parking zones in Copenhagen
Bicycles are unquestionably king of the road in the Danish capital. With 62% of residents pedaling around the city every day, parking zones for their two-wheeled companions have reached gigantic proportions, with bikes hung up vertically, stored over several floors, stacked on racks or squeezed in between frames. Nørreport, Denmark’s most-visited railway station, has space for up to 2,500 bicycles. It’s perfectly designed with multimodality in mind, meaning switching from one mode of transportation to another. Cyclists can take an elevator directly from the bike parking area to get to their train platform. There are even some spots for locking up cargo bikes, but still not enough for the 17% of Copenhagen families who use them. Local authorities are trying to satisfy the city’s cyclists, who regularly complain about not having enough places to lock up their bikes. There are currently 180,000 spots available in public spaces, with between 22,000 and 55,000 new parking points planned by 2025, including gigantic secured zones.