The city of Amsterdam is famous for her bicycle culture. The relatively small city is easy to cross and there are bicycle lanes all around. However, once arrived on your destination it is often a hassle to find a good spot to leave your bike. And when you have finally found a safe space, you have to work your way through other peoples’ vehicles blocking the entire pedestrian path or a shop entrance.
The Local Council Amsterdam South asked STBY to help explore how bicycle parking can be improved. They asked to look specifically at the area around the Gerard Douplein in de Pijp, a district known for its liveliness and diversity – and the overwhelming amount of bicycles parked in public space. The city district council was not looking for a radical masterplan, but a coherent set of feasible solutions that can be embraced by the variety of people in the neighbourhood.
To map the different perspectives in this ecosystem STBY organised three Bicycle Parking Labs where a total of 37 people participated. Amongst them were local residents, entrepreneurs, visitors and employees of city maintenance and the city district council. The challenge in this project was to have nuanced and realistic conversations, to explore both possible and acceptable solutions and to really consider the consequences for each of the stakeholders.
Although improvements are needed sooner rather than later, part of the session was focused on solutions with a 5-10 year horizon. This approach helped participants to think beyond current limitations and prevented them from getting stuck in specific details. In mixed groups of 5-6 people, participants built and discussed future bicycle facilities together. By placing the solutions on a map of the area they had to consider how the system would work in practice for all parties involved. The resulting shared vision formed a basis to identify steps that can be taken now already to work towards their desired scenario.
The project resulted in bespoke solutions for the current situation in de Pijp, but also solutions that work on a city level. We collaborated with design agency Edenspiekermann to create inspirational visuals of the 10 most promising directions. In addition we have been able to derive a set of general principles that help to understand how people feel about different approaches to regulating bicycle parking in the city. These are valuable for evaluating new proposals in the future.
We were pleased to hear that already a few weeks after the project the city district has started to implement the first short-term improvements that came up in the sessions. We are also keen to continue to contribute to more large scale implementations across the city.