Dutch cities remove abandoned bicycles
The Dutch are famous for their love of cycling, but it appears that their affection does not extend to all bicycles.
Several cities in Holland, including Amsterdam, Utrecht, Haarlem and Tilburg, are aggressively targeting the "blight" of abandoned, wrecked and inappropriately parked bicycles that litter the city centres.
In Amsterdam, the city celebrated the dubious honour of removing its 10.000th bicycle from Amsterdam-Zuid alone in 2011. In Utrecht, 4.500 abandoned bicycles have been removed from the station area, which comes at a costly 12,50 euros per bicycle.
As well as proving a drain on stretched city coffers, abandoned bicycles are an eyesore, and block parking space for active bike users. It is no surprise then that town halls have come up with a range of enterprising solutions to try and tackle the problem.
Tilburg have taken to using "face stickers" on abandoned bicycles to highlight the extent of the under-appreciated crisis, and to inform locals of the free parking facilities and the Tilburg FietsAfhandel Centrale (AFAC) - the local orphanage for removed bicycles.
In Amsterdam, authorities are more forceful, mindful of the cities' tourist trade, and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of dumped bicycles-particularly around Centraal Station. The city removes bicycles swiftly, only providing seven days notice to owners pending removal.
If the bicycle is not deemed roadworthy or reparable, the city also has the power to remove and destroy bicycles immediately, of which 500 were removed in Amsterdam-Zuid alone.
In Haarlem, authorities give bicycle users one month to remove their bicycle upon notice. However, should bicycles be parked dangerously or prove an obstruction, they have the power to remove the offending item within just four hours.
The battle can never be "won," such is the constant flow of abandoned and neglected bicycles. But it is hoped that harsh enforcement and a little gentle education can clean up Holland's cities, and provide more space for active bicycles.