Can bikes and cars share the space?
In cities where space is in short supply, you need to think outside the box to make room for everyone. When it comes to a cycle city like Copenhagen, with its countless cyclists, you also need to allot parking space for both cars and bikes.
By Niels Hoé, Atkins Danmark
Copenhagen and many other Danish cities are increasingly transforming car parking spaces into bicycle parking. Such a solution of course limits the number of car parking spaces, but this is not necessarily a negative thing. Rather than saying ‘either/or’, the City of Copenhagen, in cooperation with consultants from Atkins Danmark, decided to say ‘yes’ to both bikes and cars, and in turn developed the concept of flex parking.
Poor accessibility before the trial period
Using the same space twice
In order for flex parking to work, it is crucial that the two user groups – cyclists and motorists – are in need of parking space at different times. Take, for example, the Ingrid Jespersen high school in Copenhagen, a test site of flex parking. As is the case at most other educational institutions in Copenhagen, many people bike there, and the students are only in class for a limited period of time during the day. The school is located in a residential area with many car owners. At night, the need for car parking increases as people come home from work. Precisely this combination of a need for bicycle parking during the day and car parking at night made it possible to use the same space twice.
How does flex parking work?
The asphalt of the original car parking space is signed with the flex parking logo and a text, and there are signs indicating the time span allotted for bikes and cars respectively. Cyclists can use the space between 7 AM and 5 PM, and car parking is allowed between 5 PM and 7 AM. In order to ensure that time limits would be respected, a pamphlet was distributed to all students and residents in the area so that both cyclists and motorists were familiar with the new initiative and knew how to use it.
The biggest challenge comes around the times when the area switches from car parking to bicycle parking and vice versa. A few times, a car or bike has not been moved, but this has not caused any problems or accidents.
Car parked in the flex parking area
Flex parking may not be 100% ideal for cyclists, as there are no bike racks; nor 100% for motorists, who have to respect the time limit. But on the positive side, both parties – not just one of them – get a parking option. Without flex parking you can only have car or bicycle parking, which is only used for one third of the day.
The test has shown that it can be done. Yes, bikes and cars can share the space.
Students parking their bikes in the flex parking area