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Managing bicycle parking facilities in the public space


Period  Nov 2018 - March 2019

Client City of Amsterdam – Public Space and Sustainability department - Ruimte en Duurzaamheid [R&D]

Part of the program Knelpuntenaanpak Fietsparkeren – Meerjarenplan Fiets (2017-2022)

Presented at

The 20th International WALK21 Conference on “Walking and Liveable Communities” . Rotterdam (NL) in October 2019 by Julia Ubeda

Fietsparkeercongres organized by Ministerie I&W, Gemeente Utrecht, CROW-Fietsberaad. Utrecht (NL) in November 2019 by Julia Ubeda

Context & objectives

Amsterdam is a city with more bicycles than residents. Most of these bikes are parked on the public space, especially on the sidewalks. At many locations, the expansion of the required parking facilities is not feasible due to the limited public space. Some novel solutions are being tested in the city such as transforming the car parking spots removed from the city center (Programma Autoluw) into new bicycle parking spots.

​However, it is important to have a better overview of the parked bicycles on the sidewalks so that the City of Amsterdam is able to:

  • manage more effectively the existing parking facilities. 

  • design tailored and case-specific design solutions

  • determine whether the problems caused by parked bicycles on the street could be solved by installing more bicycle parking facilities on the sidewalks and, in that case, how many new spots should be installed and how much that would cost. 


This project gives answer to above requests by focusing on: 

1. Visualizing the existing demand for new bicycle parking facilities in each sidewalk;

2. Pointing out which sidewalks have a high priority of intervention because the number of bicycles parked out the current parking facility is "too high" and this pressure will lead to a bottleneck;

3. Calculating the maximum number of new parking spots that could be installed on each sidewalk guarantying free walking space for the pedestrian;

4. Contrasting the maximum number of new spots that can be installed with the existing demand; not on all sidewalks it is necessary to install new spots even if there is space because the parking demand is not as high in all areas of the city. This last step allows to obtain a budget estimation of the new bicycle parking facilities that are needed and, therefore, should be installed.

This way, this project facilitates and accelerates the execution and implementation of the   knelpuntenaanpak fietsparkeren  (Bottleneck approach to bicycle parking).

The analysis and end-products are executed and delivered in a map format, so that policy makers can immediately see what is happening in the surrounding sidewalks and depict bottlenecks and attention areas. ​

Datasets & initial visualizations


In the spring of 2018, the number of bicycles parked in the public space was counted by the research bureau Trajan. This counting campaign was commissioned by Verkeer en Openbare Ruimte – Gemeente Amsterdam (Department of Transport and Public Space). This count followed a previous (and first) one executed in 2016 when only the bicycles parked within the city ring (A10) were counted. In contrast to the 2016 count, the entire city was covered in 2018. 

This dataset contains: 

  • the capacity of the current parking facilities

  • the number of bicycles parked within that specific facility

  • the number of bicycles parked outside the facilities, hence parked in the middle of sidewalks


The questions are answered through a Geographical Information (GI) analysis. First step is to link the Trajan dataset (2016, 2018) to a spatial layer which contains the sidewalks of Amsterdam (BGT) so that the data can be visualized on a map.

Other available and internal datasets from the municipality were used, such as the one containing the specific location of parking facilities. 

existing parking facilities

existing demand of new parking spots

Method & results

Designed method & results

The most challenging part is to calculate where there is enough space on the sidewalk to place more bicycle facilities, guarantying free walking space for the pedestrian. To do that, an algorithm is developed which calculates the sidewalk width, then checks the free walking space and then checks if a new parking facility can be placed on that sidewalk, considering the bicycle parking facilities dimensions.

bike sizes.png

bicycle and parking facilities dimensions used in this project

In this project, the standard bicycle racks depth of 2 meters is used although this value is easily interchangeable in the algorithm.

algorithm checking the available space

The free walking space is also referred as “the sidewalk critical width”. By the time this project was developed, the “critical width” was established in the Leidraad Voetganger BVC (pedestrian guidelines) as 1.8 m although it’s important to note that this value is constantly being updated by the City of Amsterdam and might vary per neighborhood. 


The end-product is a map showing in which sidewalks there is certainly no room for extra bicycle parking capacity and where it is still potentially possible (see animation on the right). Next map gives the final bicycle parking facilities to be installed considering the space (previous output) and the existing demand (initial visualizations).

final number of new parking facilities to be installed

Last step is calculating a budget based on those numbers so it provides an estimation of the resources needed to install these new parking facilities for the whole city.


A by-product of the project is the “prioritization map”. It displays the sidewalk area taken by bicycles parked outside the parking facilities (in %). Red sidewalks indicate that a large surface of that sidewalk is occupied by parked bikes, suggesting an insufficient parking capacity in that street. Therefore, this map shows where action and measures might be required first.

prioritization map

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