Should we be reducing the number of bike parks in Adelaide? Fresh from The Netherlands, Matthew Harris fills us in. 

Adelaide is striving to be the ‘bike capital of Australia’. Just look, for example, at the $12 million deal upgrading bike lanes in the CBD. At the same time we are considering fewer places to park a bike in the CBD. Isn’t the CBD exactly the place where short cycle trips are most practical? Having just arrived from the Netherlands where bikes are used for everything – this all seems pretty puzzling.

I moved from Adelaide to the Netherlands when I was 22 and was hit by bicycle heaven. Everyone cycles and the city centres are often exclusively for pedestrians and bikes. The hustle and bustle is from people walking and cycling – not cars driving. The Dutch have a word for it – ‘gezellig’. It reflects the people focus of the environment – a nice place to hang out with others. A place bubbling and alive. There is no good translation of this word in English.

I lived for 21 years in the Netherlands and Germany, and didn’t own a car. I caught trains everywhere in the country – indeed to everywhere in Europe. I rented bikes for 5 cents per minute on the spur of the moment in many major cities like Paris, Cologne and Berlin. I cycled to the city centre, or just to the local supermarket and left my bike in massive, massive fields of bikes. Imagine how much space would be needed to store that many cars.

Bicycle parking in Leiden, the Netherlands

Bicycle parking in Leiden, the Netherlands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qp-Z7-XMRE

Planning Minister Rau’s city development plan amendment (DPA), on which the minister is currently considering submissions, suggests reducing bike parking spaces in the city. His DPA argues that that “given city residents’ proximity and access to key public services and facilities it could be argued that the city should able to accommodate a (bike park to apartment) rate lower compared to any other location”. The CBD is exactly the place where cycling is the most convenient mode of transport.

A bicycle takes much less space to park than a car – space that could be used for so many other things. Take a look at some cool bike parking spots that show this. The CBD is the closest Australia has to a ‘gezellig’ place. Let’s work to make it even more gezellig! Fewer cars and more bicycles!

Ten bike parks per car park

Ten bike parks per car park. Photo courtesy of PlanItMetro.com