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Under Water, a Wheel-World Solution

Friday, March 13, 2015

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All cities have parking problems, but Amsterdam's is unique.

The city of 781,000 people has 881,000 bicycles and nowhere to legally park them.

Now, officials in the world's biking capital have waded into a novel solution: parking underwater and on floating islands.

'Out of Control'

Having spent decades laying the infrastructure, the so-called "bicycling mecca of the Netherlands" now boasts more than 400 kilometers of bike paths, according to

About 57 percent of residents use their bikes daily, and 43 percent cycle to and from work—a 40 percent increase in the last 20 years, according to

The problem?

Amsterdam bike parking

Bike parking near Amsterdam's Central Station has become "worse than the average disorganized messy public space," says the city, which plans to add two parking islands and 7,000 parking spots under a lake.

There are only about 2,500 spaces to park bicycles near Central Station, the city's largest railway station and a gateway for its tourist destinations.

Improper bike parking caused the city to remove some 73,000 bicycles in 2013. Removal cost the city €50 to €70 (about $53 to $74 USD) per bike, while owners paid €10 to €12 ($10.60 to $12.70 USD) to get them back, reported.

"The situation around Central Station is so out of control that the area is now worse than the average disorganized messy public space," the city says in its Long-Term Bicycle Plan.

"The problem is not the huge number of cyclists—after all, this should be regarded as a victory for the city—but the shortage of good cycling infrastructure," the city says.

Tunnels and Islands

Now, Amsterdam is looking down to address the problem.

The city plans to excavate a 7,000-space bicycle garage under the IJ lake next to the city's Central Station.  The garage would be connected by tunnels to Central Station and metro systems.

Amsterdam Long-Term Plan
Amsterdam's Long-Term Bicycle Plan

The city's population of 781,000 currently has 881,000 bicycles.

Additional plans call for two floating islands that can hold 2,000 bikes each. Other new facilities should bring the capital a total of 21,500 new bike spaces near Central Station by 2030.

The long-term bike plan addresses goals through 2016, and anticipates spending €120 million ($127.5 million USD) by 2020.

In time, says an official for the Cyclists' Union of Amsterdam, bicycles will take over the city's streets and "cars will consider themselves guests."


Tagged categories: EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Parking Garages; Program/Project Management

Comment from john lienert, (3/13/2015, 9:00 AM)

first marijuana bicycles in the lead before cars.....thanks, amsterdam, for workable, world problem solutions on a timely basis....sounds like your elected officials care about more than lining their own pockets.....unlike our politicians

Comment from M. Halliwell, (3/13/2015, 12:28 PM)

The amount of trails is good, but not spectacular (I live somewhere that has a similar amount of trails) and population isn't bad for a smaller city (I live in about the same sized city), but I only contend with about 5% of the number of bikes. Ouch! If it weren't for the sub-sea level elevation, I'd say do what Japan does with the underground automated parking system...but to do that in Amsterdam you'd need one heck of a sump pump! Glad they are finding solutions.

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