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Where Do People Park Their Bicycles in the Netherlands?

By Monica Buck

One of the main reasons the Dutch cycle as much as they do is convenience. As soon as it’s easier to do the shopping on a bicycle than using any other means of transport, everybody is going to do it. Not just cycling enthusiasts. Convenience is the simple key to getting everybody to ride, regardless of the location. And officials in the Netherlands are well aware of that. That is why even their building regulations reflect that.

very bicycle journey starts at home, and the average Joe can’t be bothered to carry his heavy urban bike three flights of stairs down from his apartment just to do a five-minute trip. In the Netherlands, however, you usually don’t have this kind of problem. That’s because since about 1950 the regulations require any new building to have a designated bicycle storage room with a direct access to a public road.

The regulations were lifted in 2003 because developers claimed the market would sort out the real need for such facilities itself. But the same developers began to cut corners quickly after the law had been passed, so it was reinstated in 2012. That’s why modern homes in the Netherlands seem to have two doors. One is for the owners, the other for their beloved bicycles. Such high standards don’t apply to older houses, but that doesn’t mean officials are not trying to make things convenient for those inhabitants as well.

For example, former neighbourhood shops are being transformed into small facilities for bicycle storing. The city of Utrecht alone manages roughly 40 facilities like this, with the total of over 2,000 parking spaces. There is a simple lesson to learn from this. While the spectacular Hovenring near Eindhoven or Copenhagen’s Cykelslangen might impress everybody, it is something much less jaw-dropping that can start the real change.