The Dutch, Their bicycles, and their claim to the… | Undutchables

The Dutch, Their bicycles, and their claim to the throne

It does not come as a surprise that the Netherlands, the number one country of cyclists, would claim their rightful place on the throne as the country with the biggest bicycle parking garage in the world. In the city of Utrecht the - what will become – biggest bike parking lot opened last month. Located beneath the city’s Station Square, this biking facility currently houses 6000 parking spaces, with 1500 extra spaces soon to be available in the next couple of months. By the end of 2018, 12.500 spaces will be available for commuters to and from Utrecht, and will surpass the now biggest underground bicycle parking facility - ‘Kasai’ in Tokyo with 9400 parking spaces.

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Designed by Ector Hoogstad Architecten, the three level parking garage is opened 24 hours and is free for the first 24 hours of use. After the first 24 hours the costs to park in the lot are €1.25 a day. The parking lot is so vast that cyclists are permitted to cycle in the parking garage and does offer cyclists a service point for maintenance, repairs, parts and accessories. The OV bicycle rentals are, of course, available for people who are in need of a form of transportation for the last leg of their journey. The beauty of this parking lot is that each floor has its designated type of bicycle grouping. Subscription holders are assigned to the second floor whilst the designated spot for the OV bikes can be found a level lower along with the cargo bikes.

This project is one of the five bicycle facility projects ansd is managed by the municipality of Utrecht in conjunction with the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) and ProRail. The other 4 parking areas will be located close to the station and it is said that the total parking space around the area will total to about 22.000. Despite these initiatives to have more accessible bicycle parking spaces in Utrecht, it still won’t be enough to satisfy the high demand for spaces. What can you expect in a country with more bicycles than people? Even with the shortage, many people are still excited about these new parking options. We visited the lot this week to experience it for ourselves and were amazed by the immense structure. For us ‘newbies’ who did not known how the system worked it was a bit of figuring out where to go. But other cyclists already familiar with the facility were easily weaving their way through the building. Fortunately, there are personnel available for questions and directions. When we got to the floor reserved for non-abonné’s, many of the spots were already in use but we still managed to find a spot to park our bikes and it sure gave us peace of mind that our bikes would be okay the next day. We are definitely eager to see the results of the complete parking in 2018. Until then we will make great use of what already is.

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Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride

John F. Kennedy

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