It’s dark. It’s cold and I’m wandering through the hordes of bicycles trying to discern which banged up and rusty bicycle is mine. Damn, I knew I should have remembered to count the posts as I walked into the train station so I would have a better idea of where to focus my search. Bike parking in the Netherlands is an interesting exercise because of the sheer number of bicycles locked up outside of any train station, next to canal, or even outside your residence. This wasn’t the first time I had lost my bike, but this was definitely the longest amount of time I had been stumbling around looking for my bike.
It’s green with a bell and a back rack. Shit, that describes just about every other bike in the parking area. The only way I would be worse off was if my bike was black. I keep circling looking for the distinguishing dents, paint scratches, and scrapes that identify my specific bicycle. Finally, rejoice! Hooray! I find my bike right where I left it. I seriously need a better system for bike parking or I am going to be stumbling around the train station many more times looking for my ride home.
Existing or being everywhere at the same time, bicycles are ubiquitous in the Netherlands. Just about everyone rides a bicycle, which means that all those bike riders are also parking their bicycles. Bike parking in the Netherlands is an experience in trust, boldness, and a good, strong lock. If you haven’t been to the Netherlands you probably think I am an idiot for losing my bike, but I took pictures of the parking structures to demonstrate just how easy it can be to lose your ride home. Add on top of the millions of bicycles the darkness, freezing temperatures, being tired or having had one too many at the bar and you can understand how bikes get lost in the crowd.
In NL there are many types of parking situations for your bicycle. There are double-decker parking areas where some bikes are able to be raised above the others creating a two-story, multi-level parking situation. There are huge parking structures of numerous floors for you to park (i.e. lose) your bike in. You can park your bike in an inside parking structure, which is great for those snowy days. You can park your bike on any piece of flat ground as long as you aren’t directly blocking traffic. In Amsterdam, you can even park your bike on a bike parking boat. The possibilities are endless. All I can recommend is a good memory so you don’t spend hours hunting for your bicycle. I did get better at remembering where I parked my ride.