Saturday, June 22, 2013

Amsterdam - too many bikes? or not enough love

An article earlier this year in Dutch newspaper Trouw has been getting rehashed around the web in the last week. The article highlights a concern that there are not enough spaces to park all of the bike in Ansterdam...  Given in a lot of cities around the world, the emphasis is on trying to increase the  number of people riding, this seems like a great problem to have. 

In the article Jeanine Van Pinxteren, chair of the central district stated “The bike is threatened by its success,” In a town limited in space to start with, one of the reasons for the popularity of bikes, there also just are not enough spaces for parking bikes. And in attempt to improve things there is a plan for an additional 20,000 to be created by 2020. 

Im sure adding parking for bikes in Amsterdam is a good idea. I also think that maybe rethinking the bike itself might also be a good idea. The traditional Dutch bike is by no means compact, and perhaps promoting smaller bikes would be another means of solving the problem.  Just as moving from SUV's to compact cars in other countries is a good idea. But given tradition, I'm sure this is a change that would be next to impossible to bring about. 

In 2011 Amsterdam council officials took away a record 55,000 bikes which had been wrongly parked, or deemed abandoned. Thats a lot of bikes, I'm sure in Sydney that would account for every bike you see parked, and then some. 

Another shift in thinking that might also help would be to start "loving bikes". The typical bike in Amsterdam is not "loved" in quite the same was as a bike in Portland, where people take pride in there bikes. It would be a-typical to abandon a bike in Portland. And one is more likely to bring ones bike into the lounge room at night time, rather than leave it locked up outside. 

I dont think Amsterdam's people need to love their bikes in the same way. But I do think a little more pride in ones bike would see far less bikes being abandoned, and more care taken with the way they are parked. 


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