Bicycle parking on the Viikki campus

Empty 198-rack parking facility inside the Viikki car park

We have new bicycle storage spaces in Viikki, about 400 of them. While this sound good at first, let's look at the details:

The access-controlled parking spaces are subject to a fee. I assume it is still "allowed" to park your bicycle outside these access-controlled spaces. However, the Flamma text seems to implicate that all parking on campus areas requires a permit: "There is a fee for parking on all Helsinki campuses." ( This could have been written a bit more clearly, but I guess the writer had (only?) cars in mind.

The Flamma article claims that 36 free-to-use bicycle racks were also installed in the non-heated, outside space in the underpass behind Biocenter 2 (which used to be the gathering space for electric and electronic waste). Yes, but that possibility existed before and has been used before. It's right next to the smallest (48-rack) access-controlled parking space, the only one where I finally spotted a bicycle. Using the access-controlled parking makes sense if you have an expensive bicycle. If you do, you likely don't care about the yearly 30€ fee either: expensive bicycle parking for the rich. You pay for your parking via an app. I installed the app on my phone but did not pay the 30€/year fee. Why not? I have two issues with the fee:

  1. The 30€ fee sends the wrong signal. I thought that our university wanted to encourage bicycle commuting. In Meilahti, they even used to (still?) give you free bicyclist's breakfast (Finnish porridge) if you can present a bicycle helmet to the canteen. So why back-paddling with this 30€ fee? 30€ is not much, but it sends the wrong signal.
  2. There are many reasons why I commute by bicycle: I slow global warming, I save myself some money, I improve my cardiovascular health and whatnot. But mostly, it is about simplicity: I can ride from home straight to my workplace, where I can leave the bicycle in front of the door. This simplicity is lost with these elaborate parking spaces, none of which is closer than about half a kilometre from my office. That might not be a big deal in summer, but it is in spring, autumn and winter. After all, we are in Finland, and summer is the only season when you want to be outside longer than necessary. On top of that, using the app to pay for the parking seems not to be very straightforward either, at least when judging by the comments that various university employees have left in response to the Flamma news. Nudging people to commute by bike does not work like this!

I am wondering whether any committed commuter cyclist was involved in planning these bicycle storages. I sometimes check the 198-bicycle storage in the Viikki car park, but I have not seen a single bicycle since it was opened about half a year ago. These new parking facilities are a lot of wasted space and money if the uptake remains at less than 1% of its capacity, which is the case atm.

Since the beginning of April, the same 30€ fee must also be paid for the Meilahti inside bicycle storage. I am no longer a frequent visitor to Meilahti, but the shed has been mostly empty since spring. I wonder whether somebody thought to earn money with this move. It's probably the opposite: The costs of maintaining the (payment) infrastructure are much higher than the income from the few cyclists that agree to pay the fee... If you are a UH insider, you can find some information about the bicycle storage possibilities on the Viikki campus from Flamma (the Helsinki University intranet)", but the PDF can also be found from