Monday 29 June 2009

The Dutch Railway Station Cycle Parking Crisis

The Fietsersbond reports in the May/June 2009 "Vogelvrije Fietser" that cycle parking at railway stations in the Netherlands is in crisis. There simply are not enough places to accommodate people's bikes. Growth in use is around 5% per year, which means there will be a shortage of 150000 spaces in three years time.

Ten years ago, the ministry responsible made half a billion gulders available for cycle parking. This seemed a lot at the time, but more is needed. It looks like a billion euros will be required over the next ten years for railway station cycle parking in the Netherlands. That works out as 60 million a year for the actual building and 40 million a year reserved for maintenance, advertising, planning etc.

The map shows how many extra spaces some cities are planning. Delft, for instance, is building a new 5000 space underground cycle park. However, there is already concern that it will be completely full from the first day that it is available because cycle and train usage is growing so quickly between the time that plans are made and the cycle park opens.

Cycle parking is also under pressure to look attractive, and that often means that it should be underground, covered parking, rather than being a vast area of bikes exposed to the elements in front of the station. Groningen already has done this. However, the problem is that each underground space costs about 2100 Euros to build, while an outdoor space costs just 300 Euros per bike.

I've previously covered the cycle parking at Assen, Amsterdam, Groningen, Utrecht and Beilen stations. The last link includes comparisons with British railway stations.

There are also other articles about cycle parking and planning.

100 million Euros per year for railway station cycle parking ? That's roughly twice what the UK, a country with 4x the population, spends each year for everything to do with cycling. Britain recently announced a once off sum of 5 million pounds for improved cycle parking at ten railway stations, but that's only around half the amount that was spent here in Groningen alone... The Netherlands does have some problems too, of course. Mark Wagenbuur pointed out to me in email that the railway company has so far only promised to build 100000 spaces, not the 150000 which are expected to be needed...


  1. I dream of the day that Phoenix will someday debate the question of above ground vs. underground parking for bicycles! Right now we just need bicycle parking of any kind...

    Your blog is great - thank you for providing helpful information!


  2. What a nice problem to have. I bet the savings of not having people in cars, will outweigh the large sticker price.

  3. Why is cycling and train use growing so quickly? Is it due to people abandoning cars in the wake of recession, or population increase?

  4. Ian: I don't think it's particularly to do with the new recession - that's really not such a problem here as elsewhere and besides, cycling has been growing here quite steadily since the 1970s.

    I covered car free living before. It's a much easier choice here.

  5. And in the meantime in the UK, nearly 6 billion pounds have been approved for the M25 motorway widening from 3 to 4 lanes!

    The money is there, they just don't want to spend it.

    To add to the shame:
    St Pancras International has been opened a bit more than a year ago, after being entirely rebuilt. Of course, planners thought about cyclist and planned.... 30 parking spaces! All located at a place no one can find (the very end of the car park, the furthest from the station hall)! more info:

  6. With very few exceptions (like Oxford), in the UK the common thread about cycle parking is tokenism. The manchester tram stop closest to me made an all-out effort to install secure, vandal-proof, lockable parking... for 3 bikes. Which is an improvement on what it had before - 3 'sheffield' stands at the front, from which I lost a saddle once.

  7. Coco: Oxford does a lot better than other places in the UK. However, the number of cycle parking spaces there is still an order of magnitude lower than what is common in the Netherlands.

    Oxford railway station has 534 cycle parking spaces. That is enough for 1 in 282 of the 151000 people who live in the city to park a bike at the station. Compare with Assen railway station which has 2300 places for 65000 people. That's enough for around 1 in 28 people at the railway station. Commuter villages have even more. One of them just south of here with 10000 residents has well over 600 spaces (i.e. rather more places than Oxford for a much smaller population), which is enough for one in fifteen people to park a bike at the station.

  8. Maybe the problem shouldn't be looked at in the terms in which you're looking at it. Maybe instead the question should be asked: why are the Dutch so addicted to moving from place to place by train? Or, since the roads are overpopulated too, by road? Or perhaps they're no more addicted to moving about than any other nationality and the problem is really one of population density instead. Whatever, providing more and more bike parking spaces would seem to be an inadequate response to whatever the problem really is.


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