Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vintage bike store vs. car park

In Vienna there is an old regulation that requires new houses to have a certain minimum amount of places to park cars (e.g., for each flat at least one parking space). Whenever old houses are rebuild or get extensions that law has to be applied as well. This time it hits a vintage bike store in Mariahilf, one of the central districts of Vienna and a busy shopping area. Since the house gets a roof extension, the bike shop has to be removed in order to build a garage. From next week onwards the Radlager will be history. By the way, there already is a nearby car park that is never full, but law is law. A very sad story. This parking regulation actually goes back to 1939 and Hitler's plan of a car-centric society – and yes, it is still called Reichsgaragenordnung and in use (and not only in Germany and Austria). Even nowadays most politicians don't yet see the need to abolish this law.

Good-bye lovely bike store. Hello car park :-(.

Apparently, and that is sad too, there is no quite as powerful regulation for bicycle parking. Although new houses need to have a “sufficiently big” room for bicycle and buggy parking (see §119 (5) of the Viennese building law) the “sufficiently big” is yet undetermined and a very elastic term. While the car parks that have to be built are mostly empty, the rooms for bicycle parking (if existent) are hardly ever big enough.

Just that you get an idea – these pictures show how “sufficiently big” was interpreted in the house I live in (18 flats). Do the math yourself to see how many people have to store their bikes and buggies elsewhere. And yes, that stupid column in the center prevents from easy pulling in and out (note that the door opens inwards too). In fact, one can only store two bicycles for everyday use in there, the rest is trapped.

Sufficient bike parking? Left: an older picture before the big "muck out", Right: after the "muck out"

Old houses don't even need to have a dedicated area to park bicycles and it's often forbidden to leave the bikes in the staircase or inner courtyard. Most people living in one of those (and most houses in Vienna are in fact old) just have to drag the bikes upstairs and store them inside the flat. Elevators are of course rare too, so that is really a pain.

Please guys, wake up. Here's something going completely wrong!

There's an interesting article in Die Zeit called "Fahren, um zu parken" (driving to park) from 1995 dealing with some of our homemade problems I mentioned above. And here's another German text called "Verkehrssytem und Wirtschaftsstrukturen" (transportation system and economic structures) by the Austrian traffic planner Hermann Knoflacher, who I already introduced in an earlier post. If you know English literature dealing with parking problems, please post it ;-).


Velouria said...

That is incredibly sad. I will not even have time to visit the shop before it closes. Is it out of the question to re-open it in another space?

I did not know about the regulation for new houses to have at least one parking space for each flat. That seems like an insane thing to try to achieve in Vienna, which is cramped with old buildings on narrow streets.

It is strange that because a roof extension is being built, they are categorising it as a new building. My landlord has just finished building a Dachgeschoß exension on top of our building and did not have to meet such regulations. There are maybe 2-3 parking spaces outside of our entire building (which contains 40+ flats).

We do have a special secure yard for bicycle parking with key access, but the bike owners must walk down a flight of stairs to access it and then take their bikes back up those stairs in order to get them out of the building.

anna said...

I don't think they will reopen cause I didn't hear anything like that. But of course I hope they will.

I think it's possible to get a special permit for some buildings so that they can build less parking space. For example, when they built the "car-free estate" (here's a video about it) they got one of those. Once I also lived in the 9th district in a house with a roof extension that didn't have any parking spaces. But somehow they have to compensate for that, I just don't know exactly how it works and under which conditions it is possible (maybe only if there is no possibility to build a garage or underground car park).

lehommeauvelo said...

You would think because of the New Regime of Promoting Bike use in Europe that this Law would be Radically Modified to Reduce the Number of Car Parking Spaces Allotted to New Apartments and Provide more Bike Spaces. I would not like to leave my Bike in that Tiny Space Scrunched up with other Peoples Bikes. I Hate it in Streets when Parked at A Cycle Stand I come back to my Bike and there are several other Bikes Bunched up with mine.

Where I Live in Dublin there was a Great Little Hardware Shop and a Grocery Shop and two other Shops Together with the Owners of the Property Security Firm who had most of this Complex as Offices. The Security Firm would not Renew the Lease to the Shops and so Forced them to Close then turning the Entire Property into Offices for the Company. This Happens a lot People being forced to move even though they do not want to. Now if I want to get Garden and Hardware Items,I either have to Travel 5 k to the North to a Garden and Hardware Centre or else into the city 5k to the South. Awkward if you are Transporting Big Stuff by Bike like Compost or even Cement. Where as before I could bring a Handtruck up the Road to the Little Hardware Shop to get anything Big.

A lot of Appartment Blocks now they put in Cycle Stands and sometimes Bike Sheds. The Attitudes are getting better now to Cyclists and they are Putting in more Parking for them in New Appartments whereas before they concentrated on Putting in massive Underground Carparks and no Bike Parking at all.

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