In the Dutch city of Utrecht the biggest bicycle parking in the world is being built. When the project will be finished, 12.500 bikes can be stored in three underground levels.
The first part was inaugurated and from now on 6.500 bicycle parking spaces can be used in the city center of Utrecht, under the central station’s square.
It’s not just the size of the building that’s unique. It’s also the first bike parking facility where you can cycle right in to find your parking place. During rush hour, streams of cyclists will zoom in and out and through the facility over orange cycle lanes that run through the building like a cycling highway.
Parking is spread out over three levels. There is a separate section for season ticket holders and cargo bikes. There are also places allocated to bikes with crates and child seats that don’t fit in a regular bike rack. In the cellar you can rent one of the 720 brand new OV-bikes.
When you enter the parking facility, you check in with your OV-chip card. Price is no obstacle. The first 24 hours are free of charge, after that you pay only €1,25 a day for a regular bike and €1,50 for a non-standard size bike. To prevent valuable spaces from being taken up by abandoned bikes, bikes that have been left for longer than 2 weeks will be removed.
“To quote John Lennon, ‘Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”, said Martijn van Es, spokesman for the Dutch cycling organization Fietsersbond. “By the time the politicians have made their decisions, and by the time things are built, there are more people cycling.”
“It goes up every year in Netherlands. I look at a lot of cities in the Netherlands and they are just talking about building the infrastructure, but at the same time the figures are still rising. I am from Utrecht. They have been talking about updating the city since 1989. The infrastructure hasn’t changed enough. And there are a lot more cyclists today than there were, [and much of the infrastructure] was built in the 1980s.”
Since 2005, the number of bicycles has increased by almost 11%; in Rotterdam, cycling has increased by 20% in the last 10 years; The Hague reported 10% more cyclists in 2010 than 2006. Utrecht is the busiest of them all: 40% of those who arrive at the Netherlands’ biggest rail hub do so on two wheels.