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Amsterdam to tackle bicycle parking mess at Leidseplein

DutchAmsterdam.nl — Starting today all bicycles and scooters parked outside official parking facilities at Leidseplein and the surrounding area will be removed.

The popular square, one of Amsterdam’s premier nightlife and entertainment spots, has been plagued for years by what Jeanine van Pinxteren, Chairman of Amsterdam’s Centrum borough, refers to as a “rubbish heap” of bicycles.

Bikes at Leidseplein, Amsterdam

The fate of wrongly-parked bikes at Leidseplein, Amsterdam

Take that literally. Frequently residents, delivery people, and even cleanup crews toss bikes that are in the way aside in heaps.

It’s not just the mess that bothers local authorities. “The emergency exits of the Stadsschouwburg (Municipal Theatre) are blocked off by rows of bikes,” Van Pinxteren tells Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool. “That’s going to change: bicycles that are not parked in designated facilities will be taken away.”

Poorly parked bikes also turn the area into an obstacle course for wheelchair users, mothers and fathers with prams, the elderly, and other pedestrians.

Aside from bikes parked willy-nilly, the area also includes many abandoned bikes. Under the new approach, bikes and scooters left more than a week — even if parked correctly — will be removed.

Locals and business owners have complained about the bike mess for years. But, says Van Pinxteren, the solution took a while because in order to take action the Centrum borough first had to demonstrate that there were enough official parking alternatives available.

Bicycle parking at or near Leidseplein

Borough officials have searched the neighborhood with a fine-toothed comb in order to find those alternatives.

In the water of Ziesseniskade (yellow marker), just East of Leidesplein, two pontoons are provided as bicycle parking facilities. Another pontoon is moored in Lijnbaansgracht (purple marker), across from De Melkweg.

In addition the bicycle parking lot at Raamplein (green marker) has been expanded, and Leidseplein (red marker) has been dotted with parking racks and other facilities.

These bicycle parking facilities can be used free of charge.

“We now have 1800 spots,” Van Pinxteren says, noting that while this is enough during the day time, at night some 3700 bicycle parking spots are needed. “We’ll have those after the square has been refurbished, five years from now.”

The redeveloped square is slated to include an underground bicycle garage with 2700 parking spots.

illegally parked tourist bikes in Amsterdam

Illegally parked tourist bikes will be subject to removal as well. There goes your deposit...

But as of today, even if you park your bike illegally during the night, bottom line is that it will be removed if it’s still there in the morning.

Today and the rest of the week bicycle coaches will encourage cyclists to park their bike in the designated areas. There will also be signs, as well as a huge banner to introduce the new policy.

The information campaign will run through April 15.

What to do if your bike is missing

A team of ‘cutters’ will be at work to cut the locks of stray bikes and scooters.

Note that correctly parked bikes may only occupy a spot for 7 days. After that time it is removed as well.

Removed bicycles are brought to the AFAC: Amsterdamse Fiets Afhandel Centrale (Amsterdam bicycle depository). Several years ago the city advertised the service with television spots featuring a guy who, upon seeing that his bike was missing, says something that sounds like ‘Ah Fxxk!’ — which is pretty much how an Amsterdammer would pronounce AFAC.

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This post was last updated: Mar. 20, 2013