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Leiden overflowing with bikes

Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2006 at 10:03 am CET

The warehouses used by the municipality of Leiden to store improperly parked bicycles are nearly full. Because of this the city can no longer clear illegally parked bikes from the train station area. The city needs storage space for at least 3,000 bikes.

The city has two storage places for bikes which have been picked up. The Boommarkt warehouse can hold 450 bikes, while the Oude Vest storage facility can hold 220.

The bikes are removed under the “Fiets fout = fiets weg” rule, which means “bike wrong(ly parked) = bike (taken) away”. If a bike is left in an illegal parking place for more than a week, it is taken to one of the storage places mentioned above. The bike will remain in storage for three months, to allow the owner a chance to pick it up again. After three months the bikes are sold at markets outside of Leiden.

Prior to 2004, bikes could be reclaimed at no cost. Since 2004, owners must pay a fine of €26 to collect a confiscated bicycle.

Unfortunately, not everyone is aware that confiscated bikes can be reclaimed. The bikes are seldom picked up and the number of bikes in storage is a growing problem. The city cannot resell the bikes in Leiden, as it is possible the legal new owner of the bike may be named a thief by the previous owner, should the two ever meet. Therefore the bikes are shipped far away for resale or donated to charity, but this endeavor costs the city money.

According to D66 party-member Stoffels, the bike parking area underneath the taxi stand by the train station is always nearly completely full. It is also often full of garbage and clearly abandoned bicycles. Other parking areas close to the train station are not used because they are not well-lit and cyclists find them unsafe.

City officials agree that 10,000 bicycle parking spaces in the train station area should be enough. They want to improve the signposting for little-used parking places in the area. A new website will be introduced to show the bike parking areas in the city center on a map.

Source: Leidsch Dagblad

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