Item author
Guido Göbbels
Photo taken on
16 Jun 2010 4:16 pm
15 Jun 2010 12:37 pm
15 Jun 2010 12:39 pm
15 Jun 2010 4:15 pm
15 Jun 2010 4:15 pm
15 Jun 2010 4:16 pm
15 Jun 2010 4:14 pm
15 Jun 2010 4:14 pm
15 Jun 2010 11:52 am
Photo author
Guido Göbbels
Jonathan McTaggart
Rachelle Bugeaud

in a row 2

all bikes are facing the same direction.

Advertisement for bikers

Covers with advertisement were put on the saddles one morning.

Wild group of bikes

A lot of bikes in front of the central station

solo bike

A rare sight - a lonely bike parked in a back alley.

Scooter vs Bicycles

Scooters and bikes often share the same spot but they don't mix

Rental Bikes at central station

A group of rental bikes. "Normal" Bikes are parked seperatly.

behavior sketch

"There was a nice gap"

Searching for space

A woman was searching for 8 minutes to find a place for her bike.

Bikes in a row

A lot of bikes in front of a shop in the city. They are placed parallel to each other. There are more bikes parking than official parking posts.

Context of the observation

The observation was done around Cologne Central Station. The observation time was done in the afternoon and on the morning of the next day. Of these bicycles, most are city bikes belonging to commuters (people who must travel to a different city by train in order to work).Within this area four signs were placed, which stated that no bicycle parking was allowed. On the other side of the observation spot (150 meter away) is a parking garage for bikes which offers a secure parking space and other services like maintenance and/or cleaning.

We observed the way people parked their bicycles - the time needed, their perceived mood (stressed, in a hurry, relaxed), the steps they take to park their bicycles and the way they begin to form patterns.


HBF, cologne


1 Interpretation

We noticed that people try to park their bicycles wherever possible. When trying to decide where to park his/her bicycle, a cyclist seems to follow these unwritten rules of bicycle parking. These rules are influenced by society, culture and age groups. These rules could be considered a set of behaviors and values shared by most cyclists:

1. follow a pattern if it does not jeopardize the safety of your bicycle
2. park next to something your bike can lean against or be tied to
3. only park your bicycle if it will not be blocking flows of traffic
4. notice the hierarchy of existing groups of parked bicycles
5. follow micro (bicycle) and macro (architecture) patterns
6. if one bicycle is parked in a “no parking” area, copy it
7. no kick-stand : lean it against something solid
8. pick a spot and stick to it (day after day)
9. complete original patterns
10. park next to other bicycles
11. follow lines and borders
12. keep it neat

The people who park the bikes follow imaginary lines and patterns and try to keep order. Special bikes like the rental bikes from DB or motorcycles are excluded from the group (herd) and form their own group.

We further analyzed the situation and compared a lot of the behavior exhibited by cyclists to that of herd animals. The following points are behaviors and reactions we observed in bicycle parking that we thought would be comparable to certain situations in nature.

1. hide in numbers -> groups of bikes
2. watering hole analogy -> groups form near posts
3. predators -> theives
4. skeletons -> old rusty bikes
5. leader of the pack -> the initiation of a group
6. packs -> DB vs. normal bikes
7. camouflage -> hidden places

Guido Göbbels
14 Jun 2010

8 Questions & 0 Responses

Why do people park their bicycles in groups, and how many bicycles are needed to actually start a group parking?

Jonathan McTaggart
15 Jun 2010

Do people create bicycle groups on purpose, or are groups created on their own as a result of the parking situation?

Jonathan McTaggart
15 Jun 2010

Does the way a bike is being parked vary on the prospective time the bike will be parked (10 minutes versus 3 days) ?

Rachelle Bugeaud
15 Jun 2010

Where would you park your bike ?

Guido Göbbels
17 Jun 2010

How can this series of unregulated behavior
be applied to other systems ?

Guido Göbbels
24 Jun 2010

What can we learn from this series of
unregulated behavior and how can it be
applied ?

Guido Göbbels
24 Jun 2010

To which extent are common-sense and
negotiation useful tools for regulating public
space ?

Guido Göbbels
24 Jun 2010

How can this set of unwritten rules (which successfully regulates the parking of bicycles) be a source of inspiration when creating new systems ? For example, how could a reduction of official rules be advantageous for other systems (such as parking a car) ? Can people be trusted to develop an "unwritten" code of behavior for other systems ?

Rachelle Bugeaud
08 Jul 2010