Pilot bicycle parking system in Utrecht and Groningen by ProRail
To combat the shortage of bicycle parking places at railway stations, the railway network manager, ProRail, has started a pilot with a new bicycle parking system in Utrecht. Train passengers arriving at the station by bicycle see upon arrival at the parking facility a screen displaying empty spaces, allowing them to find a spot more easily. Bicycles that have been parked too long are removed. A similar system will be operating at the Groningen railway station.
The bicycle parking spaces in the Utrecht Smakkelaarsveld and Groningen Stadsbalkon have been equipped with devices monitoring how long a bicycle has been parked there. To that purpose each individual parking rail has a toggle switch screwed on, containing the electronics required as well as a small battery. The toggle is switched as soon as a bicycle is positioned. At that moment the switch sends a wireless signal to the receiver mounted on a pole at the parking facility. Smakkelaarsveld contains several dozen of these. The receivers relay the information to a central computer stationed at the company managing the system on behalf of ProRail. The data collected are returned via the internet to the parking facility manager. He can see on a screen exactly which spaces are empty, which are occupied and how long a bicycle has been parked. If a bicycle has been parked for over 14 days, the parking manager (local authorities) will remove it.
Except for the fact that management will be much easier, users of the parking facility can find their way faster thanks to digital screens at the entrance. At a glance it is clear where empty spaces in the parking are located. The pilot will run for six months. If successful the system will be introduced at other parking facilities at railway stations as well. Currently costs are well over €100 euro per parking space, but ProRail hopes these will fall over time.