I stayed with a friend in the canal district of Amsterdam recently, and learned from a local exactly how bike parking works in that city. You keep your collectible bikes in your storeroom downstairs, while outside you add layers of beater-bikes to the handrails beside the canal. You chain the first bike you own when you move there to the handrail, and when you buy a second bike you chain it to the first bike, and when you buy a third bike you chain it to the second bike and so on ad infinitum. He took me on a tour to his first bike, through four or five layers, telling me the story of each bike on the way down holding so many memories, but then a flat tire or broken chain and kablem: that older bike turned into a bike rack for a newer one. It’s a good thing bikes have only been around since the 1880s; the trafficable width of Amsterdam’s streets would be considerably less had this process of stacking been allowed to go on for very much longer.
Given their penchant for practical earthworks, one wonders why the Dutch haven’t simply filled in their disused canals and done away with the handrails: no pesky canals blocking their way, and no more bike hoarding on public land. They must have more of a romantic streak than the Germanic tone of their language suggests. They are keeping the bikes and the canals. That means endless demand for more bridges and more storage for bikes. Better still, it means bridges and bike stores rolled into one.
Laurent Saint-Val‘s proposal for a living bridge, incorporating bike storage into the pylons, would be as obvious an addition in Amsterdam as another clothes rack in my bedroom, for my unnecessary collection of jerseys.
Okay, so it’s unbuilt and quite possibly never to be built. We know of it from archilover, a final resting place for student projects. But let us not quibble. This is a plausible proposal that would make as elegant a use of carbon-fibre (natures’s own version, wood) and steel spokes in tension as any bike does, and it has a well resolved marriage of form and function. Well worth showcasing with cycle-space blog post.