Smart bike parking

Last week Prorail, in charge of Dutch rail, presented a revolutionary system that should put an end to the chaos around train stations caused by bicycles. Previous trials in Utrecht, Groningen and Zutphen show that the system creates thirty percent more space.

The bicycle parking system works by using switches built into the bike racks. When a bicycle in a rack is inserted it is determined by a computer. On large screens is shown how many places are still available. The administrator of the bicycle parking can also see how long a bike has been parked. If it is longer than the allowed period, he has the right to remove the bike. This smart parking should put an end to the estimated 60,000 so-called abandoned bicycles that nationwide are parked around stations. These are bikes that will never be retrieved, but they claim 15 percent of the storage spaces available. Previous experiments in Utrecht, Groningen, Zutphen show that the system delivers 30 percent more space. Not only due to the removal of all abandoned bicycles. The available space is also effectively used. Travelers have an overview of the amount of places still available. Now, though only 90 percent occupied, travelers think the parking is full. With the introduction of the new system it is easier to utilize the parking for the full 100%.

Light, color and sound for safety

A recent Dutch study researched the impact of atmosperic variables on the experience of safety among others. Safety in cities is regarded often from the ‘objective’ point of perspective. The subjective side of the matter is just as important. Many ‘objective’ safe neighbourhoods are being experienced as ‘unsafe’. Light, color and sound can add to the feeling of safety. Since many years underground parking is often well-lit and plays music at night. Although lightdesign will not prevent you from being robbed, it could make underground cityscapes much more attractive during day- and nighttime. Furthermore dedicated well-lit bikepaths could offer attractive ‘safe’ nightlanes in the city.

lightdesign: Herman Kuier

Waste collection on the water

According to the Dutch newspaper NRC innercity cargo transport by boats is the future. In the historic towncentres of the Randstad congestion is an everlasting problem. These historic centres have once been designed for transport by foot, horse and… on the water. Small scale cargotransport on the finegrain network of historic canals in the innercities is a Smart alternative for regular distribution with too big trucks in the congested towncentres. The city of Utrecht sets the example. In 1996 it already started with a municipal ‘beerboat’ to deliver drinks at restaurants and bars along the ‘Oude Gracht’. Now there is also a boat for waste collection and a new beerboat on electric power. So no innercity noise anymore. The waste collection boat has a crane to transport waste bins from the quai to the boat. The industrial design for the waste bins on wheels should actually be improved, because the small wheels cause difficulties on the cobbled innercity roads. The advantage of the wasteboat is the reduction of congestion, CO2 and fine dust. The boat seems to be slow, but is much quicker than transport by truck. Utrecht aims on the expansion of the fleet. The city is working on a full electric powered city distribution system. Their ‘cargohoppers’, small electric vehicles which with a tail of ‘wagons’, are the alternative for the truck. These heavy trucks demolish the pavement in the historic city centres. The political support of the whole project is there, because it combines clean, silent and energy efficient alternatives.

The above is a summary of an article in the Dutch newspaper NRC: “Afval- en bierboten tegen de files”, October 20th, 2012.