Bike blight in Belgium and Holland

Bike parking is so congested, commuters are considering cars again

Haphazardly chained bikes are a common feature of the Amsterdam street scape

Haphazardly chained bikes are a common feature of the Amsterdam street scape

The number of bikes in Dutch cities is growing by up to 5% each year according to daily newspaper Trouw.

Official figures for Amsterdam say there are 880,000 bikes, up 44% since 1990.

The problem of where to park them is becoming so acute – in student cities, and around train stations particularly – the authorities are forced to consider drastic action.

Meanwhile, dedicated underground bike parks are often empty says the paper.

A cycling lobby group in Utrecht told Trouw the problem was so bad that commuters will start using cars again.

It's virtually impossible to take a picture in Amsterdam without a gaggle of bikes appearing somewhere

It’s virtually impossible to take a picture in Amsterdam without a gaggle of bikes appearing somewhere

Belgian city Leuven, to the east of Brussels – also a popular student centre – is to take tough action.

Its underground bike park in the city centre, opened last September, with annual running costs of €483,000, has an average of just 18 of its 560 spaces occupied each day.

Bikes are so densely congregated that a major crossroads has been blocked for emergency services.

The authorities have now decided that any badly parked bikes will be taken away.

‘The cycle park will soon fill up once we’ve cleared the square a few times,’ says the mayor.

Just to be clear, we didn't go to Amsterdam to take photos of bike

Just to be clear, we didn’t go to Amsterdam to take photos of bike

Comment

Wherever you look in the Low Countries, bikes are everywhere. It’s a good thing, obviously. But in Amsterdam last year we couldn’t help but notice it was getting ridiculous. After dark the railings around the canals were so encrusted with bikes, often several deep, it made manoeuvring the car difficult. We’re not surprised the emergency services have problems.

It’s not taking long for bikes to achieve the same nuisance level as cars. Banning cars from cities was a simple solution for many people. Restricting bike use however will not be so easy. By that point we will have to confront the unfortunate reality that it is not cars or bikes that are the problem but people. And what then?

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