Chicago Sun-Times

Bike Parking: Dutch-style

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Here's another reason to love Amsterdam. No, not THAT reason. Or THAT one. I'm talking about bike parking. According to an article by traffic expert Tom Vanderbilt in Slate magazine this week, in the Netherlands, where an estimated 27 percent of daily trips are made on bicycle...

"Outside of, or underneath, Dutch railway stations in the major cities sit vast bicycle parking structures. In fact, parking is so readily available that many riders keep a bike at their origin and destination stations. The three-story parking-garage-style facility outside Amsterdam's Central Station holds some 9,000 bikes, while Groningen has a massive, covered and guarded facility that holds 4,500 bikes. And yet even these structures do not seem to meet demand."

Would you more readily bike to work if you had a secure, indoor place to keep your bike?

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9 Comments

I loved your article on biking in Chicago

I have given this issue much thought. I believe there are tangible ways to make bicycling more viable in the city if Chicago. Here are a few:

1. We need secure ways to park bicycles overnight at Metra and CTA train stops. These need to be enclosed and secured. These could even be rented by cyclists for a nominal sum (e.g. $30/month) and need to be run as efficiently as the bus shelters in Chicago. I see lots of space at most of these train stations and this would be a big step forward towards bike based commuting in Chicago (Is this a business model for JC Decaux??). Please start this at a big station like Clyborn Metra or Union station or maybe even Ogilvie.

2. Metra and CTA need ways of transporting bicycles during rush hour. Bike racks on the outside of the train car or dedicated cars for bicycles would of course require some hardware and other changes but absent the bicycle storage locations, there isnt much option if you want to get serious

3. Start a bicycle rental program. Rent a bike at one of these train stops and drop it off along the way. Paris does this well. Another business for JC Decaux

Combine all of the above and you have an awesome start. More bicycling lanes and of course more bicyclists becomes the natural result of the above

Mark Werwath


I am from the Netherlands myself and have read this article with interest. I go to work on my bicycle every day and don't own a car. Though we have 'bicycle parking structures' a lot of people never use them. At least, I don't. Most Dutch people drive very inexpensive bikes. If you have a new bike it gets stolen anyways. An old dutch-style citybike will cost about 150 USD. It looks like crap and it rides like crap, but it never gets stolen. I advise all Americans to do the same.

I ride daily all year on a dutch bike and park it in the Sears Tower parking garage. Much better than the EL!


The city does an OK job, but clearly bikes are a distant 3rd fiddle to cars. All those meter poles could have been left and equipped with a new type of harp-shaped bike rack that bolts on to the sides of parking meters and allows 2 bikes to lock on, one on either side.

If the city of Chicago really gave a crap about bikes, this would have been the least they could have done, but it's mostly small gestures for PR and lip service.

Yes, the City has installed many bike racks -- which accommodate relatively few bikes, and which offer very little security or accountability. Just take a look at the vandlaized and abandoned bikes chained to these racks daily, and consider whether you'd really want to trust your higher-end commuter to it. The only place in the City that comes close to offering the type of secure storage so common overseas is at Millenium Park.
Whether it's racks of marginal value, poorly marked and unenforced bike lanes, unenforced lane-sharing and anti-dooring laws, or the fact that CDOT itself resides in a bike-hostile building (no bikes inside and inadequate rack space in front), the quality of the City's actual bike commuting support efforts fall way short of its hype. Brett isn't being unkind, Joe, just factual

When the summer heat in Phoenix fades, I commute two days out of the week on my bike. I would not do that, at all, if I had to park my bike outside. My office manager lets us park our bicycles in a locked conference room which is only accessible by employees.

I travel outbound from the city to Rolling Meadows for work. Things would be so much easier/better for me if I could take my bike outbound on the subway. Buses are equipped with bike racks, but you can only take your bike on the el or subway during "non-peak" hours, even when doing the reverse commute.

Additionally, my office is across from Busse Woods - a veritable wonderland of bike trails, running paths and waterways. However, my office building has not a SINGLE bike rack - despite having well over 100K square feet of office space and considerably more than a thousand spots for cars. My only option if I want to go for a bike ride at Busse is to haul my bike out there via a car and keep it locked on the the car's bike rack all day. What a waste.

Brett, you are being unkind to the city, which has installed thousands od bike racks and is already working to address the problem of parking meter removal, as described on its Bike web site from which this is reprinted:

"CDOT’s Bike Program has already begun to address the impact of lost bike parking as a result of converting parking meters to pay-and-display areas. This subject is addressed in the Bike 2015 Plan.

"The Bike Program is already reviewing areas where meters have been removed for possible bike rack installation, based on requests from citizens and aldermen. The best place to request a bike rack is through the Bike Program’s web site (www.chicagobikes.org/bikeparking) or by calling 311. More than 11,000 bike racks have been installed citywide to date, and that number will continue to grow."

I just returned from Amsterdam and was in awe at how they got it together. I ride my bike to work every day due to the fact that I am able to store it in my company's storage locker. I would ride it much less if I had to put it outside with the elements and thieves. And now with the removal of parking meters (way to lose money city hall!), bicyclists have even less places to lock it up. Perhaps some of that money should be applied to bike stands, or would that infringe on the CTA's overpriced fairs and poor service? Hmmm...

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