Eyes on the Street: German Bike Parking

Copenhagen is getting all the attention lately, but it’s not the only livable European city with great cycling facilities.

Last week, I visited Munich for work, and found that the cycling culture there is strong, particularly as measured by the excellent bike parking facilities.  They seem to be in all the right places:

Outside the subway:

munich_bike_parking_6.jpg

Instead of car parking spaces:

In front of shops:

Even outside of suburban supermarkets:

Overall, the bicycling atmosphere is so comfortable, a ride to school doubles as a great time for a nap:

munich_kid_sleeping.jpg

  • I also like that they don’t need to travel around with huge heavy chains to lock-up their bike. They seem to use lightweight locks for the most part.

    Fear of theft and the effort of carrying a huge chain around town is another deterrent to increased cycling in NYC.

  • Dutch cyclists I’ve met say there’s a ton of bike theft in their cities. Let’s not take the Euro-Utopia talk to absurd levels.

  • Same with Copenhagen. I was told that bikes disappear constantly.

  • My comment was an observation – they don’t use the same big chains that everyone in NYC does if you park your bike on the street. Maybe they don’t care as much about having a bike stolen or maybe theft is less frequent over there since there are so many other targets. I don’t know.

    What I do know is that the fear of having your bike stolen here is very real and unfortunately you can’t casually park your bike with a little wire. Both serve to deter many would-be cyclists from using their bike more for everyday activities.

    So why the difference? Why do they have small chains and we have big ones? Is our relative fear justified or over-reaching?

  • One feeling I had was that there are so so many more bikes on the streets in these cities — I mean, like, hundreds of times more than NYC maybe — that the odds of getting your bike jacked are much lower even if the number of daily thefts is greater. Plus most people seem to be riding not very fancy bikes for the most part. In Copenhagen most bikes were fastened with little more than a rear wheel lock.

  • So cheap but good bikes, in large numbers = lower relative chance of bike being stolen? That sounds reasonable.

  • I think it’s mainly about treating bicycling as a regular mode of transportation (as opposed to a hobby); carrying a huge lock everywhere just isn’t practical.

    Also, parking your bike in a nice, busy, bike rack or in front of a store feels like a safer bet (regardless of the actually possibility of theft) than chaining up to a parking sign.

  • Clarence

    Re: Biketopia and bikes being stolen: well it doesn’t seem to stop people from riding and getting another bike! So there is the good side.

  • Exactly. It’s part of the built-in risk of riding your bike. Just like the risk of getting in a car crash each time we drive a car. When riding a bike to work/school is that normal, theft is probably not such a huge concern. I believe in biketopia.

  • Pix 3 and 5 above both show substantial cable locks. Not the brutal square-link chains some NYCers lug around, but probably at least as heavy as a decent Kryptonite U-lock.

  • crzwdjk

    Lest anyone think otherwise: cable locks are practically worthless and can be defeated with a pair of scissors. All you really need in most cities is a U-lock, though it also depends on the kind of bike you have. Obviously shiny expensive bikes are likely to get stolen, but so are low to mid-range mountain bikes, because they have a very good resale market: delivery bikes. A large number of those are stolen, and I even know someone who had his bike stolen, sold to some local business for delivery purposes and then stole it back. The way to solve bike theft, I think, necessarily has to stop this market of stolen bikes.

  • ddartley

    Look at the second picture–bike parking space ON THE STREET, like a parking space for a car. (Of course you fit bikes-to-cars at a ratio of 8:1 (could be even more) in the space of one small-medium car)!

    NEW YORK OUGHT TO TRY THAT, AND BLOODY SOON. Williamsburg near the Bedford Ave. L is one perfect place–elderly residents reportedly complain about bikes taking up sidewalk space, and you know what? They’re right. There are lots and lots of cyclists in the community and not so many car-parkers, so why should Williamsburg allow obsolete, pro-car street design pit cyclists and pedestrians against each other? I’d like to see them unite against a common enemy. How easy would it be for the City to take away ONE parking space and give it to cyclists? With just that, pedestrians would see a dramatic improvement. Imagine if they converted two, or four! This is a no-brainer for Williamsburg, I think.

  • Anne

    bike parking spaces in the street would be great for park slope too. there are almost no bike racks on seventh or fifth avenues, and the parking signs all have several bikes locked to them. half the time i give up trying to do any shopping in the area because there is nowhere to lock my bike. businesses take note!!

    of course it is difficult to imagine a riot not breaking out if any parking space was taken from cars…

  • Chris

    Incidentally, Munich is hosting the next Velo-City conference in June, 2007. One of the goals of the conference is to showcase their bike infrastructure and culture, but more importantly, to show how they plan to “increase the cycling share of transport from the current 10% by 50% by the year 2015.”

    Check it out: http://www.velo-city2007.com/index.php?id=63

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