Parking at the OBA

Did you know that there is an underground bike park at the Amsterdam public library?

Nor did a lot of people – which is part of the reason there are loads of bikes parked all over the square outside the library. When city council asked those who parked above ground a third said they didn’t know there was an underground bike park. This is understandable – the entrance is on the far side of the square as you arrive, and it’s rather discrete. You can see it in this 360 degree view.

The city council would like everyone to use the underground park, and have made a public challenge to come up with ideas on how to get this working, you can participate by submitting your own idea, or by voting on the posted ideas (all in Dutch so far). So far the ideas with the most votes include;

  1. Make a direct entrance from the bike park to the library; the person suggesting this has figured out that the library goes deep enough, but you would enter into what are now the library stacks.
  2. Redesign the square – the cycling client is king, design the square to support them, use lighting and low hedges (too low to lean a bike against) to guide the cyclist to the cellar, and provide repair services for free.
  3. Create a Red Zone around the library, and fine any bikes that do park there.
  4. Reward rather than punish – give cyclists who park underground a discount on a cup of coffee at one of the cafes in the area.

You have a total of 10 votes, with a 3 vote maximum per idea. (It seems to be connected to your email address + cookies, so it would be possible to vote more than once). The links above take you to the ideas

I think it’s partly a design issue the square is designed to be empty and to draw the visitors eye to the library building. It’s a case of an architect’s good idea for what is beautiful being ruined by the pesky reality of people using the building. The entrance to the bike park is sign posted but with small “official” signs. I think you’d do better with some kind of sculpture near the entrance that indicated bicycles. Perhaps an oversized red bicycle leaning against the glass oblong that houses the elevator.

Bike park entrance at OBA

I like the idea of rewarding people for doing the right thing – and did vote for the idea that suggested that. However if the reward is standard people will become used to it and it won’t work. So I’d modify that idea so that people using the underground park got a “surprise” reward. It could be a coffee, it could be an invitation to an event, it could be a bike seat cover – “I found the secret park at the library”.

I also think some form of penalty is needed. The main reason people gave for parking above ground was that it was faster.  But I noticed that most of the bikes on the square weren’t locked to anything so it would be possible to move them into the underground park meaning that cyclists would spend more time getting their bike back.

But the ideal solution to me would be to move the entrance – so that you come to the bike entrance before you reach the square, the parking area extends in that direction underground, so this solution is not impossible – however it probably is more expensive than all the other suggestions combined.


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