Towns actively removing bicycles
Removing abandoned bicycles is higher on the agenda of local authorities. These are bicycles that have been parked in streets for a long time without being used, often taking up parking spaces needlessly. Towns like Utrecht, 's-Hertogenbosch, Haarlem and Tilburg are investing heavily in flyers and abandoned bicycles are being forcibly removed in order to upgrade the attractiveness of public space or to provide room for other bicycles.
Tilburg has decided in favour of a playful approach: on Saturday October 15 ‘anonymous’ abandoned bicycles were provided with a face. In this way local authorities not only draw attention to the problem, but the Tilburg FietsAfhandel Centrale (AFAC) – the orphanage for removed bicycles – and the free parking facilities in the town centre are highlighted as well. Retrieving a bicycle comes to €10.00 in Tilburg. In addition Tilburg reports that less than 2% of the abandoned bicycles removed by local authorities is retrieved by the owner, and that approximately 1 in 5 bicycles in the unguarded parking facility in the local train station has been abandoned.
In Utrecht 609 bicycles have been removed from one half of the town centre in a cleanup action started at the end of August. This week the second half will follow. All bicycles in the eastern half will be provided with a blue label. Bicycles still displaying the label after 28 days will be removed. Since 2009 well over 4500 abandoned bicycles have been removed from the station area. Retrieving a bicycle comes to €12.50 here.
‘s-Hertogenbosch, too, has recently instituted a bicycle depot. The local authorities’ website offers the option to check whether the disappeared bicycle can be found there. In the past few months over 300 bicycles have been moved to the depot, and 130 stolen bicycles have been retrieved, over 100 of which have already been returned to their rightful owners. The owners of the other bicycles have not yet been traced or can no longer be identified.
Amsterdam ‘celebrated’ that recently abandoned bicycle number 10,000 of 2011 has been removed from Amsterdam-Zuid. Amsterdam distinguishes between ‘bicycle wrecks’ and ‘abandoned bicycles’. A wreck is defined as a bicycle in such a state of disrepair that it is impossible to be used for cycling and the cost of repairs exceeds its value. These wrecks are removed right away by officials. This year five hundred of these have been removed in Zuid. An ‘abandoned bicycle’ is dilapidated, but may still be repaired. These bicycles are provided with a dated warning sticker. The owner then has seven days to make it roadworthy again. If that does not occur, the bicycle is removed and stored at the Fietsdepot in the Westelijk Havengebied for a maximum of three months. There the owner may retrieve his bicycle upon payment of €10.00.
Haarlem, too, has been clearing heavily over the past months. Obnoxiously parked bicycles outside the stands to the south of the station area are provided with a sticker. The owner has 4 hours to find a proper parking space; if the bicycle has not been moved after 4 hours, it is taken to the bicycle depot. Dangerously parked bicycles are removed without a grace period. Abandoned bicycles to the north and south of the train station and in the parking basement are provided with a sticker around the tyre and the frame. If the bicycle is not moved and the sticker is still intact after one month, the bicycle will then be moved..
In Arnhem the expansion of the bicycle parking facility with another 400 free spaces at the train station led to a cleanup. And finally, the town of Hardenberg has initiated a survey of the number of abandoned bicycles in the Hardenberg train station parking facility. All bicycles will be labelled. The label is automatically broken as soon as the bicycle is used. After labelling the number of labelled bicycles in the parking facilities is registered.