As one of Germany’s foremost bicycle cities, Münster (Westfalen) has the country’s largest bicycle station, with safe and dry parking spaces for 3500 bicycles.
The bicycle station is located directly in front of Münster’s main railroad station, so people can ride their bikes to the station and then take the train to wherever they are going. People commuting into Münster also can deposit a bike here and then use it every day after they arrive here by train.
Bicycle parking costs € 0.80 for a day, € 4.50 for seven days, € 8.00 for a calendar month or € 80.00 for a year. (Make that € 100.00 for the year if you want to have your own reserved space.) Prices as of 2021.
By the way, it is still possible to park bikes up on the street for free, which lots of people still do for short term parking. (That’s what I did when I stopped to take these photos.)
While people in Münster are proud of having the largest bike station in Germany, they are well aware that several cities in the Netherlands, just off to the west, have much larger ones.
The world’s largest bicycle parking garage is currently the one in at the main station in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, which opened in 2019 and can hold 12,500 bicycles. Utrecht is just 170 km west of Münster.
The American Environmental Defense Fund, in an article on “Bike-and-Ride Commuting”, pointed out that bicycle stations like this one “eliminate the inefficiency of using your car for only a short distance (cold starts), and that saves a lot of fuel and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.” They explained that most cars “burn as much gas and put out as much pollution and greenhouse gases in the first two miles of a trip when the engine is cold as they do in the next five or ten miles of a trip.”
Also, they said that building and operating a bicycle station only costs one tenth to one one-hundredth of what it would cost to provide parking for the same number of cars.
In the Münster bicycle station there is a machine where for a mere € 4.50 (price as of 2021) you can have your bicycle washed. Just put a protective cover over the saddle, roll the bike into the machine, insert the money, push the button, and after five minutes it’s clean.
By the way, the Münster bicycle station began operations on June 14, 1999, so it has already celebrated its twentieth anniversary. At first lots of people thought the bicycle station was a crazy idea, but it’s been a huge success, and now people in Münster can’t imagine how they ever got along without it.
For us visitors, the bicycle station is the first thing we see when we arrive in Münster and come out of the train station, so it’s a great welcome to the city.
The Münster bicycle station also has a professional bicycle repair shop, which is very convenient especially for people who park their bicycles here anyway.
As the Environmental Defense Fund pointed out in their article, simply providing bicycle parking at the station isn’t enough, “you have to make the facilities safe and comfortable as an incentive to get people to find it as convenient as driving with many extra benefits besides.”
They mentioned Münster as a good example of a city which has done this, and went on to explain: “There’s no doubt that bicycling is not only great for your health but saves money on fuel and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It offers a way to get more people on mass transit at lower cost. Given the low cost of building and maintaining bike stations, we can both afford and physically accommodate a lot more bike spaces than we can car spaces. And it can free up now crowded park-and-ride spaces that often fill up early in the morning, so people who can’t bike can more dependably catch a ride on transit.”
At the Münster bicycle station they also have bikes for rent, including tandem bikes and bicycle trailers for children. The rental price as of 2021 is € 8.00 per calendar day, reduced to € 7.00 if you have come from more than 100 kilometers by train (just show your ticket). You can also rent for three calendar days (€ 20.00) or for a week (€ 37,50), and there are reduced prices for groups.
My photos in this post are from 2009. I revised the text in 2021.
See more posts on Münster (Westfalen), Germany.
See also: Cycling in Groningen, Netherlands.
8 thoughts on “Bicycle parking in Münster”
It would be interesting to know the genesis of this heroic enterprise, when Munster first had the idea of promoting cycling above other forms of transport. Possibly it was in the Fifties, when I gather they did away with the tram system? I’d like to think there’s some individual, a knickerbockered, bicycle-clipped visionary of yesteryear, who first tabled the proposal and drove it through.
Yes, the trams were discontinued in 1954, and replaced by buses. I don’t know when or how the emphasis on bicycles came about, but it was certainly earlier than in most German cities. No doubt it was helpful that Münster is flat and has a large student population, and is close to the Netherlands. (But even the Netherlands didn’t start prioritizing bicycles until the 1970s.) I’ll come back to this in a future post.
What an elegant improvement for a modern city! I think the best I’ve seen anywhere in the states is the “cage” in the corner of some garages, maybe the size of one or two car parking spots.
I will admit, my first thought at the first picture, though, was: How would I ever get a bike onto the upper tier? (Still: SO MUCH easier than the “rotary car park” or “parking elevators” I’ve heard of in Israel and Korea but never seen in real life that allow cars to be similarly stacked.)
Then again, even as a young, fully able adult, I did once drop my carry on bag onto my own face while attempting to stow a heavy backpack overhead during boarding for a flight. The impact broke my glasses; I then required an airport assistant for the very first time (age 19?) because my uncorrected vision is THAT poor. I couldn’t read the gate numbers to find my way on my own!
But the ability to pay for a reserved parking bay (back to Münster’s bicycle garage) solves that concern completely. Clever administration in Münster!
In a related question, though: are there special spots reserved for the bicycles of those with special needs? (I.e., is there a handicapped parking equivalent? Or the “softer” suggestion to reserve some spots for caregivers with young children or other populations who could benefit from a little extra convenience.) Some of us no longer have the physical confidence to bike at all, but I could imagine cycling working for those with less systemic issues who might not be able to use an upper level storage bay.
The more one has limits beyond those of “average” bodies, the more vital the need to search for necessary accommodations in advance to ensure an outing is feasible… and safe. It’s actually fascinating to look at how different societies acknowledge this kind of need within their own communities (or not.)
Thanks for your visit and comment.
Getting a bike onto the upper tier is easy, because there is a spring that does the lifting for you. I’ve never done it in Münster, but I have done it in Groningen, which uses a similar system.
I’m afraid I don’t know the answers to your questions about people with special needs.
All the facilities that are practically needed for a smooth bicycle travel are covered here. I liked the concept of quick bike wash & the repair shop. I have seen videos & read about the Utrecht bicycle parking facility, Don did you get a chance to explore?
No, I haven’t been to Utrecht recently, but I hope to go post-Covid.
Was sadly only there briefly. Met Caro and Sabsi from VT at the, as you might have imagined, brewery there. That’s quite the parking garage!
I once met Caro at a VT meeting in Antwerp in 2012. Not sure I ever met Sabsi in person, but I remember her from VT.