Many cities have dynamic parking systems that tell you ere there are available parking spaces for your car. Utrecht in the Netherlands have just installed a system for bicycle parking. Utrecht has installed dynamic signs to guide you to the bicycle parking facility that is best at that moment. The P-Route Bicycle – as the city calls it – makes it easy to find an open space to park your bicycle free, dry and safe.
The alderman for traffic started the system by unveiling the last of the 21 digital signs on Tuesday 2 June last. The system guides cyclists coming from all directions into the city centre to 6 of the 17 municipal bicycle parking facilities (4 of which are pop-up parking facilities that operate at peak hours only). The system will be expanded if it turns out to be a success. The city published a fact sheet (in English) that explains how it works. “Along the access roads to the city centre and the Railway Station Area, 21 digital signs inform cyclists of the number of free parking places in the nearest bicycle parking [facilities] and indicate the route to these facilities. If a parking [facility] is full, cyclists are guided to the nearest parking [facility] where places are available. Cyclists can use the P-route bicycle to find a place for their bicycle quickly and conveniently.” This describes the part that the cyclist sees of the system, but of course there is also a technical system needed to feed the signs with the right data. “The number of free parking places is established by means of an innovative detection system equipped with optical sensors. In combination with smart software these sensors detect whether or not a parking place is free. The sensors look like cameras, but the images are not captured or saved, so the cyclist’s privacy is not violated.”
The sensors for this system look like cameras, but they work in a different (and secret) way. They detect if and when a bicycle was placed in the individual racks.
The system will also ‘learn’. After a while there should be sufficient data to help predict when a parking facility is reaching its limit. When that happens the most distant signs can indicate beforehand that the facility will be full once a cyclist has cycled the distance to that facility. The data is also stored for management information. The city can adjust its pop-up facility policies based on figures provided by this system. So the facilities are there when and where they are needed most.
This map shows the location of the 21 digital signs (the red squares) pointing to the 6 bicycle parking facilities, numbered on this map. 1a. Westplein South, 1b. Westplein North, 2. Jaarbeursplein, 3. Lange Koestraat, 4. Vredenburg, 5. Stadhuis (City Hall), 6. Zadelstraat.
Reference: Bicycle Dutch
In association with the Marin Museum of Bicycling
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