The Netherlands has a lot of bicycles, and as a result also a lot of cycle theft. However, most theft is in the bigger cities. Assen is a very safe place to park your bicycle. The insurance companies know about this stuff, and cycle insurance costs half as much here as in Amsterdam.
Here, you'll find that people are generally quite happy to leave their bikes secured just by the inbuilt lock which prevents the rear wheel from turning. They will leave what they've bought from one shop on their bike while they visit another, that removable lights / panniers / bike computers etc. are left on the bike and don't go missing.
While there are very many cycle racks, there is never enough formal bicycle parking. What's more, even though the racks are outside virtually every shop, people often want to park their bikes even closer to their destination than the bike racks. As a result, on busy days (which means pretty much every day except Sunday) there tend to be as many bikes parked "wild" as in racks.
There are no cars on any of the streets shown here, so there is plenty of room for bicycles and a relaxed atmosphere for cycling. It wasn't always like this. The city centre was once dominated by motor vehicles. However, changes were made in the late 1970s / early 1980s to exclude cars from the city centre and the result is the vibrant city you see today.
We've many types of cycle parking here, and the most popular racks are those which support the bike by the front wheel. The problems with the inverted U shape "Sheffield" type racks is that they don't stop the bike from falling over, they don't allow bikes to be parked very densely (which is important when there are a lot of bikes) and they get in the way of one side of the bike. For people trying to pack large panniers on both sides with shopping they don't work very well while racks which support the front wheel do.
I'm not talking about "wheel benders," but racks which support a greater part of the radius of the wheel and actually work. When they also have a loop through which you can put a cable then the frame can be secured as well. Not that many people bother here.
Finally a view of a different kind of bicycle parking. There is a beach right on the edge of the city. We're quite a way from the coast, so it is a lake surrounded by trees. I took this photo on a hot day in May this year. The cycle parking stands at the beach were of course overflowing, and many bikes were parked in with the trees instead.
Previously I've shown the cycle parking at Assen railway station as well as in Groningen.
Marc at Amsterdamize also covered cycle parking today. Or click for many more cycle parking examples.
A video showing parking at the beach:
Assen is a great place for a cycling holiday. Bring your swimming gear too. The Netherlands in general is very safe for people too.