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 bicycle-friendly city like Copenhagen, with its countless cyclists, cars aren’t the only modes of transportation that need to be parked. You need to allot parking spaces for bikes as well.
It is increasingly common for Danish cities to transform car parking spaces into bicycle parking spaces. Such a solution of course reduces the number of car parking spaces, but this is not necessarily a negative thing. Copenhagen, in an effort to avoid this “either/or” scenario, has tested an idea that says “yes” to both bikes and cars with an innovation called Flex-parking.
In order for Flex-parking to work, it is crucial that the two user groups – bicyclists and motorists – are in need of parking spaces 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 the city, many students bike there, but 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 higher demand for bicycle parking during the day and higher demand for car parking at night made it possible to allocate spaces to two different uses depending on time of day.
The asphalt of the original car parking space is painted with the Flex-parking logo and text, as well as the time span allotted for bikes and cars, respectively. For example, cyclists may be allotted use of the space between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., while cars are allotted use of the space between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.
In order to ensure that time limits were respected in the Ingrid Jesperson High School test case, a pamphlet was distributed to all students and residents in the area educating them on the new initiative and how to use the spaces.
The biggest challenge with Flex-parking occurs around the times when the area switches from car parking to bicycle parking and vice versa. Occasionally a car or bike must be moved, but this has not caused any problems or accidents.
Flex-parking may not be 100 percent ideal for cyclists, as there are no bike racks. Nor may they be 100 percent ideal 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 have to choose either car or bicycle parking, achieving more efficient use of limited resources.
The test has shown that it can be done. Yes, bikes and cars can share the space.