Wild Bicycle Parking in Utrecht

Bike Parking Along the DriftDespite the number of official spots for bicycle parking in the city, ranging from indoor parking to your typical outdoor bike rack, wild parking (I like the literal translation of wildgeparkeerde) is still the norm. It’s not surprising, considering the number of bicycles in the Netherlands outnumbers people, not to mention the whole point of cycling is the convenience it offers. If you’re out running a quick errand, you don’t want to park your bike blocks from where you’re going, just to park in a designated spot. Of course, there aren’t always that many designated spots, either.
Bike Parking Along the Drift
The Drift canal runs is lined with university buildings, including a library, so it’s no surprise that it’s a popular destination for people on bike. Students and faculty alike spend plenty of time in the area. However, offhand, I can’t think of that many convenient outdoor bicycle parking areas nearby. I think the newly renovated library probably has some underground parking now, but there’s still plenty of wild parking happening up and down the canal. So much so, in fact, that signs have to be put up on some of the bridges to prohibit bikes being parked there. With varying degrees of success.
Bike Parking Along the Drift
Some people really dislike the mass of bikes that pile up and they can be inconvenient at times, but overall, I don’t mind them. I’ll take huge swathes of bikes over cars any day! Plus, it can be quite picturesque in its own way. A row of lamps, a sea of bicycles, charming buildings, and a Gothic cathedral to top it all off.
Bike Parking Along the Drift

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13 thoughts on “Wild Bicycle Parking in Utrecht

  1. Hi Alison,

    I like this use of “wild” too –first encountered it in “Geen wildplassen a.U.b” (there was lots of olfactory evidence that the sign was being ignored) but have also seen “wildbraaien” for what is sometimes called guerilla knitting or yarnbombing in English.

    We have a problem with mice at the family cottage and especially resent the fact that they pee under the elements on the range. Two years ago we put a “Geen wildplassen” sign on the stove, not sure it has made a difference. Maybe they don’t read Dutch

    Hope the winebar is going well!

    Best from Cornelia Schuh

    • The “geen” in any sign seems to be more of a suggestion that is often ignored, especially with the geen wildplassen!

      Perhaps you should leave out an advertisement for a working cat. Maybe that will have more of an impact on the mice. 🙂

  2. Wildparkeren suggests that it is against the law to park. Which means in the Netherlands that it will seldom apply to bicycles. For cars there are lots of signs and of course laws forbidding parking in many situations.
    I don’t know any signs forbidding bike parking in Leiden, the city where I live. Of course many houses and shops have signs requesting to not park bikes against it but I doubt that those has any legal value.

    Wildplassen on the other hand is always forbidden, even without signs. Which in a way is somewhat strange given the almost complete lack op public WC’s in the Netherlands.

    The bridges in your photo shouldn’t need those sign. They feel, at least to me, as a kind of driveway. One doesn’t park ones car or bike on someone else driveway. But it may well be possible that the bikes which are parked on that bridge belongs to people who are living or working in the building to which the bridge belongs. So it could be a bit like parking your bike in your own driveway.

    The town council of Leiden doesn’t like the large numbers of parked bikes in the city centre but they haven’t dare (yet) to something about it. I feel this massive bike parking is one of the very typical dutch things, even a tourist attraction.

  3. There is underground parking for the library but it’s not used as often as it should be. Everyone still parks their bike on the Drift! I just showed my mum your post and she’s in awe at the amount of bikes – she’s coming to Amsterdam with me in less than 2 weeks (and onto Utrecht for a day!) – she will get a bigger shock when she actually arrives!! 🙂

    • Even as close as the underground parking is, it doesn’t surprise me that many people don’t use it. Parking on the Drift is probably that little bit more convenient. Of course, if you go a few streets over to Lucas Bolwerk on a Friday night, you’ll see just as many bikes, it seems, when all the students (and plenty of locals) move to the three bars on the corner of the street. I hope your mum enjoys her visit!

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