Shared bikes in Amsterdam
“We cannot allow shared bikes to occupy the scarce public space in the city,” says Deputy Mayor Pieter Litjens, responsible for Traffic, Transport and Mobility. “When we’re working so hard to create more room for cyclists, we can’t just sit back and let these commercial interests fill it with shared bicycles. In fact, if they try to do so, we will impound their bikes. The bike sharing scheme should reduce the number of bicycles in the city. So far, there just seem to be more bikes, we have to impose restrictions.”
Obviously, you can park your bike in a suitable public space, even when it’s a rented or ‘shared’ bicycle. However, it is prohibited to use the public space as a bike rental location. And that's exactly what some of the bike-sharing schemes are now doing. Not only are they choking up the parking facilities so badly needed by Amsterdam’s residents and visitors; they are also providing a paid service at the roadside, in violation of Article 2.50 of the General Municipal Regulations (APV).
Amsterdam is a cycling city. We are proud of our cyclists, because riding a bike is more than simply good for your health and the air quality; it also keeps the city accessible. However, given the limited public space, cyclists, and especially parked bicycles, also present a challenge to the city. Amsterdam is therefore investing in additional (bicycle) parking capacity to meet this need, while also restricting the obstruction of public space by unused bikes. Bicycles may now be parked continuously for no longer than six weeks within the entire A10 ring road, or a maximum of two weeks at any NS railway station.
Exploring the opportunities
For the time being, to ensure that citizens still have somewhere to park their bikes, shared bikes will be removed from public spaces. The city’s district authorities will enforce this policy. Bike sharing companies operating within the city will be directly notified of this decision. The council will raise the issue with all stakeholders, including the bike sharing companies. If Amsterdam’s citizens, like its tourists, start to find these sharing schemes more attractive than bike ownership, then this concept can potentially help to reduce bicycle parking congestion in the city. Nevertheless, new policy measures will be necessary for this to happen in an orderly manner. A market survey has already launched as part of the city’s new long-term cycling policy.