Text from VCD Landesverband Nord:
They stand on the street-scape between trees and parked cars, with a purpose not quite immediately clear to everyone – the Hamburg Bicycle Houses. They’re found primarily in Altbau neighborhoods, most of the time 12-cornered, with the quasi round building style due to the construction’s concept: a rotating device in the middle, from which there is space enough to hang up to 12 bikes. The first houses of this kind were set up in the mid-80s in Altona. If bicycles weren’t parked on the balconies they were in the stairwells, particularly in the Altbau houses, blocking the escape routes in case of emergency, a curse on the fire department. The Altbau houses of this time period seldom had spacious enough basements, and parking the bicycle outside in front of the building wasn’t the best solution due to weathering or threat of theft. Thus the idea evolved to shelter the bikes in protected houses near the apartment. The bicycle houses are normally acquired by either a tenants’ association or the landlord. They’re installed by the authorities upon request somewhere between the sidewalk and the vehicular lane.
It is therefore necessary to get a special-use permit. This is issued when it is determined that the bicycle house will not interfere with traffic or be a hazard in any other way. A standard model costs somewhere between 4,500 and 5,300 Euro, up to 2,250 of which is subsidized by the district or county government. The subsidy, however, is only available if no other bicycle parking is already on hand in or around the building. If the house or building owner has the possibility to set up a bicycle house on her/his own property, the process becomes relatively uncomplicated since the permit isn’t needed. Subsidies are also available in this case, with the requirement that the bicycle house be kept up and used as such for at least 10 years. There are three methods of getting a bicycle house:
- Tenants join together and one of them submits the permit application. A space costs 130 Euro.
- The building owner submits the permit application.
- A building owner buys a bicycle house for her/his own property.
Whoever wants to install a bicycle house needs two certifications; the first one being a trip to the borough or county government offices for the special-use permit. The permit is issued on a temporary basis and if not revoked, it is automatically extended. A few criteria need to be met for the second certification, for example building blueprints and site survey need to be handed in, including photographs of the requested site. Then there is a site visit with various representatives from the public works and city planning department. There may also be agents from the department of transportation or the police. If at the end there are no objections from the various departments, a green light is given for the bicycle house.
One more word to the situation in the individual districts: at present there are bicycle houses in four of Hamburg’s districts – Eimsbüttel, Nord, Altona and Mitte. Eimsbüttel has most of the bicycle houses, Mitte, in contrast, has only 10. Here it was found that the development in the Altbau neighborhoods, particularly St. Georg were so dense, that installation is impossible. The fewest available bicycle houses are in St. Pauli.
(note: translation is fully my own, please feel free to point out errors)