Mar 22, 2022

Leidseplein: ‘We encourage cyclists to park indoor with new technologies and real time information’

The innovative design of the underground bike parking near the Leidseplein (Leidse square) won an architecture prize last year. But not only the architecture is state-of-the-art. Project lead Liezelotte Nagtegaal talks about what innovations have been applied to make the bike parking as easy and attractive as possible.

The construction of the bike parking, started in 2019 and completed in 2021, has resulted in a new underground landmark offering room for 2,000 bicycles on 2,000 square meters. The design by architectural firm ZJA has been awarded as ‘best of the best’ in the category ‘Intrastructure’ by the AMP (Architecture Masterprize). The new square above the bike parking was designed by the municipality of Amsterdam. The last 2 years, Liezelotte has been involved in underground bike parking as part of the Amsterdam Bicycle Programme. “It’s really cool that we’ve managed to refurbish such a busy place, the entertainment centre of Amsterdam, to something so beautiful. The square used to be filled with parked bicycles, now it is a place where you can stroll, sit quietly and eat your sandwich. The public space is more attractive now, and better organized. And the bike parking has turned out really well.”

Sharing experience and knowledge

Liezelotte’s predecessor Auke Adema was involved in the design phase. “In the Bicycle Programme we have gained a lot of experience with realizing and exploiting indoor bike parkings. Auke believed in technological innovations to bring bicycle parking to a higher level since 2015. With these innovations we are trying to make parking as easy and attractive as possible for cyclists, for instance with automated self-service entry systems. I was given the opportunity to bring these ideas into practice in the Leidseplein bike parking.”

Chip card and bicycle tag

“The NS (Dutch Railways) started with the roll-out of a self-service registration- and payment system by using a public transport chip card (OV-chipkaart) in their bike parking. That system proved to work well. We were wondering: ‘why should a cyclist notice any difference between a bike parking owned by the NS or one belonging to the municipality of Amsterdam?’ Cyclists often use facilities offered by both. Amsterdam and NS started a cooperation with the focus on the end user. Cyclists are now able to check in at municipal bike parkings using a OV-chipkaart. And because not everyone has such a card it is also possible to check in with a debit chip card.” A second innovation is the bike tag. “That’s a token which is attached to the front of your bicycle. With the tag, checking in and out of a bike parking is automated and without a card. Your bicycle is recognized by the entrance columns or bikelanes. The bike tag is in the testing phase at four other bike parkings in Amsterdam: Beursplein, Reguliersdwarsstraat, Station Amsterdam Amstel and at Strawinsky (Station Zuid).”

| Project manager Liezelotte Nagtegaal

Dynamic guiding and direction system

Amsterdam wants to enable cyclists to easily find ánd use indoor bike parking facilities. Liezelotte: “There is a detection system in several bike parkings in Amsterdam. The latest detection system is implemented at Leidseplein which keeps track of the number of free spaces, and where these spaces are. You see this information on displays inside. The bike parking has not been that busy yet due to the corona lockdown, but now everything has opened up it will prove to be very useful information. These data are linked to a dynamic guiding and direction system for cyclists. On several spots in the city along cycling routes there are displays with real time information about the occupancy rates inside the bike parking. The closer you get to the Leidseplein, the more information you get about the bike parking. Then you know as a cyclist: I can park my bike here. Or I can’t park it here, but I can go to that other bike parking. We encourage cyclists to park their bikes indoor with real time information.”

EU subsidy and handshake

These innovations are funded by the European Union. Liezelotte: “There’s a lot of technology in these systems. The CEF Digital programme of CINEA (Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency) funds 20 percent of our investments. This is the first time a bicycle project is being supported by this programme. The EU is proud of this. Within the EU there is an increasing number of countries that are getting started with sustainable mobility. If it comes to bicycles, the Netherlands and Amsterdam are often at the forefront of developments. That is why Amsterdam participates in another EU project, Handshake, in which we actively share the knowledge we gain with these bicycle innovations. Everybody is very interested, we’ve had visits from Paris, Utrecht and Rotterdam. Delegations from Rome, Turin, Munich and Copenhagen will be coming to Amsterdam soon. Of course, they don’t want to miss out on this fabulous bike parking!”