Thursday, January 02, 2014

Using empty shops as bicycle garages in Vienna

We spent some time in Vienna last year. We didn't take the Brompton folding bikes. In fact we didn't cycle at all. Viennese public transport is superb with frequent underground trains, trams and buses, so there was no need to cycle at least for the ten days or so we were there. However the Viennese city fathers are encouraging cycling and there was an exhibition in the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst (Austrian Design Museum) on classic bicycles where I also picked up a copy of "Cycling Affairs: Smarte Ideen für Rad & Stadt" (Clever ideas for bikes in the city) published by the Creative Agency of the city of Vienna. The book discusses the prizewinning suggestions in a design competition on cycling in cities. There are over 400 suggestions displayed in the book. We are not going to discuss all of them, but some of the ideas deserve publicising further.
The winning idea was to use a number of small empty shops as bicycle garages, called Rad WG - bicycle flats or apartments, where bicycles can be stored safely and, warm and dry, protected from the weather. Participants would receive a chip card to get into the rooms. These offer room for bike storage with video camera surveillance, a basic workshop and an information terminal. A smart phone app could be used to show where room is available nearby. These bicycle storage areas would also act as meeting place for cyclists to swop ideas and receive or give advice.
A big problem seems to me to be the question of who owns the shop. Who would pay the rent?  The chances of success when cyclists have to pay rent are low. Mannheim station has a parking garage for bikes in an old baggage dispatch hall next to the station which costs 30 cents a day for a monthly ticket. I think it does reasonably well, but the station square is littered with bicycles chained to fences. Not all of these bikes are old clapped out bikes for the city that are unattractive for thieves. In Britain at least perhaps one could use the former public libraries which are being shut down at every opportunity.

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