bicycles, bikes, cycling, Netherlands, Tech

The world’s largest bike garage just got even bigger

Maybe you’ve heard the dinner party fact that the Netherlands is the only country in the world that has more bicycles than people. (If not, go ahead and steal that for your next dinner party!) And here’s another one: It only makes sense that the world’s largest bicycle parking facility can be found in the country as well.

It just got even bigger.

Located in the city of Utrecht near Central Station, the 24/7 ride-in facility now features enough storage for a casual 12,500 bikes, including regular commuter bikes, cargo bikes, electric bikes, and even tandems (yes, some people use ’em).

The first part of the garage opened in August 2017 with 6,000 spaces, with another 1,500 added by October. This second part, which opened on Monday, Aug. 19, added an extra 5,000 spaces, bringing the total to 12,500.

Check out those slick interiors.

Spanning three floors with a glass and timber fit-out designed by Ector Hoogstad Architecten, the concrete space is co-managed by the Municipality of Utrecht, ProRail, and NS (Dutch Railways) as a means to connect the city’s rail and bike commutes. Students and travelers will love this part: Spaces are free for the first 24 hours of parking.

“Utrecht has the three busiest cycle paths in the Netherlands, and it’s the largest public transportation hub in the country,” reads the project website. “[The founding parties] wanted to ensure an easy-to-get-to and easily accessible station with attractive, safe, and better utilised bicycle parking facilities.”

Grab and go.

Grab and go.

Riders check in with the OV-chipkaart, a card/app-based payment method for public transport in the Netherlands. Then, a digital “space indication system” directs cyclists to free spaces. This is also useful for monitoring; staff will make sure you don’t leave your bike for longer than 28 days or leave it improperly parked.

The minimalist, three-floor structure is built around a continuous, one-way cycle path, in which you can ride in and out on both sides of the facility. There’s a 15 kilometre-per-hour speed limit to keep things relatively (and hopefully) safe.

Ride in, park, ride out.

Ride in, park, ride out.

Along with parking spaces for bikes, including electric bikes, around 1,000 OV-fiets rental bikes are available from the facility’s first floor — you can check availability using the NS app. Plus, there’s a service kiosk onsite for repairs and maintenance like changing or patching a pesky tyre.

If you’ve customised the crap outta your bike with crates, giant handlebars, and cargo-holding additions, there’s a designated area for parking to maximise on space elsewhere. 

It looks like an Aesop store for your bike.

It looks like an Aesop store for your bike.

The facility is the centre of a €500-million bicycle parking project around the Central Station area. The aim was to create 22,000 bicycle parking spaces in the area by 2020, so there’s around 8,500 spots to go to meet this goal.

But people are using it. According to the project website, the occupancy rate for the first stage was between 80 and 90 percent Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays the place was completely full (it’s not in the picture below, but y’get it).

Space for days.

Space for days.

With over 22 million bicycles in the Netherlands compared to just under 18 million residents, parking spaces like this are not only a necessity for cities like Utrecht, they’re also an indication of a country’s dedication to a serious bicycle-led transport system. 

Can we have one, too?

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