- Text: Marie Bruun Yde
- Photos: Esspestudios
Fully automated bicycle parking provides convenience and proximity while conserving a considerable amount of space. The Heilbronn Bicycle Tower makes bicycle parking – and hence cycling – stress-free. In Germany, bicycle parking facilities of this type are however still rare.
For high-traffic areas, the absence of any concept for bicycle parking often results in bicycle cemeteries. Conversely, simple, flexible parking options promote bicycle use. An additional strategy for encouraging bicycle use is investment in a combination of cycling and train travel.
Already with the Bundesgartenschau (Federal Garden Show, BUGA) of 2019, Heilbronn showcased its urbanistic orientation, showing how a multifunctional concept could allow a variety of uses to be integrated into the city on the Neckar River. The tiny metropolis has also claimed a place for itself on the map as a bicycle city. With a current share of bicycle traffic of 8%, Heilbronn approximates the national average, but perceives great potential for improvement. A new pedestrian and cycling bridge above the Central Station, the work of arch22, together with the Heilbronn Bicycle Tower, are strategies for fostering green mobility.
The Bicycle Tower has merit as a beacon for bicycling infrastructure, and signals that cyclists are being taken seriously in Heilbronn.
The WÖHR Bicycle Tower is a conspicuous presence at the eastern end of the train station forecourt. The small, transparent structure proclaims its function outwardly: a parking facility for bicycles that are stacked vertically. Altogether 122 parking spaces on eight levels offer the two wheelers space between a securely locked door. There are three operational options: chip card, online, or credit card, with rates for both regular and spontaneous users. The bicycle is sent upward, the door closes, and then it’s off to catch your train. Besides providing protection from the elements and theft, the device makes minimal demands on space. The tower occupies only circa 50 sq. m of surface area, leaving the surroundings unobstructed.
The glazed facade harmonizes with the adjacent glass-roofed bus stop. Its transparency places the structure’s engineering achievement on full display, along with the aesthetic appeal of the colorful bicycles, and makes the tower urbanistically well-integrated and approachable. But do a mere 122 bicycle parking spaces at the central station suffice for a city of 126,000? Hopefully not. Ideally, many more people will soon be arriving at the station on two wheels. But the Bicycle Tower has merit as a beacon for bicycling infrastructure, and signals that cyclists are being taken seriously in Heilbronn.