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Little Bicycle-Sheds – "Fahrradhäuschen"

Bicycle parking in densely populated housing-areas

Fahrradhäuschen in Hamburg
Fahrradhäuschen in Hamburg © Behörde für Wirtschaft, Verkehr und Innovation

The Challenge

Many densely populated residential areas do not have enough space for safe parking of bicycles. Some houses may have usable space in the basement, but small stairs or ramps complicate the accessibility. But if one do not have easy access to the bicycle it will not be used as everyday-means of transport. Furthermore, a bike must be parked securely – on the road it is not only exposed to risks of theft and vandalism but also to rain. Consequently, one may prefer an old one instead of an valuable bike, and this may confront the cyclist with technical problems, safety aspects, and may reduce the fun of bike riding. In other words: It might cause less cycle traffic than possible.

The Solution

One answer to that problem is to build a cycle shed on the estate, or, if that is not possible, in streetspace. In the beginning of the 1990s, a new kind of shed was invented in Hamburg and sold by commercial as well as by nonprofit producers. In such a model, 12 bicycles may take place. Hence, this solution is highly attractive for multi-storey dwellings.

Technical Details

In most cases, the shed is a dodecagonal rotunda, made of steel and wood. The bicycles’ front wheel is put in a rotating table, especially developed for that purpose. The entrance is a double-winged door, which allows a comfortable parking process. The shed’s outer diameter are about three metres, the building area is six metres. The bicycle sheds, which are common in Hamburg, are made and assembled by firms from the state-aided labour market. However, there are additional commercial suppliers.

Application and Requirements

If the bicycle shed is implemented in public space the public authority has to grant a special use permit (withdrawable and limited but with extension option). The use permit is given without special fees. Most important prerequisite for the location of the bike shed is that there's enough space on public grounds. The shed should not endanger normal traffic (i.e. should not hinder cycling and walking, clearance of cycle- and footways and visibility at junctions).

In addition to the form, applicants have to hand in various documents: a site map, (including several details, e.g. trees), a construction plan for the shed as well as photographs of the building zone. Before a positive or negative decision can be made, the application documents have to pass through the responsible departments. Some producers undertake those formal requirements from the applicants.

Application and Grants

The City of Hamburg and its boroughs actively support the implementation of such facilities. For benefiting from that offer, multi-family house owners or groups of at least 12 persons interested have the opportunity to apply for funding by the borough's budgets. The subsidy equals half of the costs, up to 2.250 Euro (overall costs of 4.500 Euro to 5.500 Euro). The house owners or the interest group have to contribute the other half. The applicants have to proof, that there is no other possibility to create appropriate bicycle parking spaces in the building or around it. Furthermore, it is forbidden to gain profits from renting slots in the shed. Maintenance and repair have to be financed by the private owners.

If the bicycle shed should be located on private ground, the owner’s approval has to be submitted. Getting the funding, recipients are obligated to use and maintain the object for the purpose of bicycle parking, at least ten years. In cases of offense, the borough administration has the right to reclaim its money.

In detail, there are three ways, in which the bicycle shed’s implementation and use can be organized:

  • Twelve users (e.g. renters) can form a coalition and hand in a joint application at the borough administration. Every user included has to pay about 250 Euro to get the right to use a parking slot. If somebody loses his interest in using it, he has to find a successor who overtakes his rights and duties.
  • The house owners could benefit from the implementation of a bicycle shed, as well. Hence even they can apply for funding and run the shed for their renters.
  • House owners could buy a bicycle shed (without subsidies), implement it on their private ground and rent the parking slots to the tenants.

Aspects of Insurance

From the perspective of household insurances, the bicycle shed is treated like a cellar. Consequently the bikes which are parked there are covered by insurance protection. If the shed is located on public ground, it has to be insured for about 40 Euro a year.


Since 1993, 300 bicycle-sheds have been built, most of them on public ground in the densely populated neighbourhoods of Eimsbuettel, Altona and Hamburg-Nord. After the invention of the bicycle sheds in Hamburg in the beginning of the 1990sonly a few German cities have installed bicycle sheds, although there is a big need for it.

The bicycle sheds can be used for at least 20 years. They have been implemented in Hamburg as well as in some other German cities, like Dortmund (Good Practice Example in German). Hamburg and Dortmund are two of the few cities that contribute public money to the investment. Generally, the concept is transferable to any other city, if:

  • there is a political majority, sharing a consequent will to promote cycling,
  • there are public or private institutions, taking care of the project,
  • there are citizens, agreeing over investing some of their time and money for improving everyday cycling conditions.


Private Mittel (ohne Sponsoring und Spenden)
5 000 €
Investment: ca. 5.000 Euro per Unit; running expenses are maintenance costs




Januar 1993

Öffentlichkeitsarbeit & Dokumentation


Ansprechpartner auf Projektebene: 
Contact person 'non-motorized traffic'
Olaf Böhm
Behörde für Wirtschaft, Verkehr und Innovation (Dpt of Economy, Transport and Innovation, Hamburg)
Alter Steinweg 4
20355 Hamburg
Telefon: +49(0)40/42841–3659

Stand der Information
14. April 2008
Olaf Böhm, City of Hamburg, Department for Economy, Transport and Innovation