DUTCH CYCLING SERIES: Those who are planning high-density bicycle parking in Dublin or other Irish cities might want to take note of the plans to provide 22,000 bicycle spaces around Utrecht central train station in the Netherlands.
The authorities in Utrecht are busy building new bicycle spaces around the city’s redeveloped train station.
But before construction even started, there were challenges to overcome — smaller, older underground parking had to be closed for refurbishment and surface bicycle parking had to be moved away from the station entrances to allow for construction of the wider redevelopment project. Part of the he process had to include the provision of temporary parking spaces around the station, here’s just a tiny fraction of this:
Three new covered bicycle parking units (A, D, E), are being added, and two old structures (B, C), described as “like catacombs”, are being modernised:
The area marked ‘A’ on the above image is the now opened parking at Jaarbeursplein, a revamped square on the side of the train station away from the city centre:
Here’s a short video shown inside the unit at Jaarbeursplein:
(more images below)
The new facility is guarded and paid parking, but the first 24 hours is free. So, if a bicycle is removed and left back again daily, it currently does not cost anything.
When a bicycle is not moved within 24 hours, the rate of €1.25 for a normal bicycle or €2.25 for a cargo bicycle per day kicks in. For more long-term storage, there’s a yearly rate of €75 for normal bicycles or €150 for cargo bicycles.
Each bicycle rack has a sensor and users tag in and out using smartcard readers which work with OV-chipkaart, the Dutch public transport card which is long rolled-out nationally (unlike Leap in Ireland):
Sensors on each rack feed into electronic signs which let you know if a row of racks is full so you don’t waste your time searching when there’s no space:
When there is space in a row, the display units show how many spaces there are available in the lower and upper racks. This master unit shows how many spaces are on the ground floor:
Each level, rack and space are numbered, and each level is also colour coded to make it even easier to find your bicycle:
It was dark and rainy the day we visited, but even then there was some natural light provided via spaces between steps outside:
The larger of the three facilities — which is yet to be constructed — is to include cycle paths running through it and cycle paths which ramp from level to level. This will allow quick access from bicycle parking spots to outside and it’s also designed as route through the facility, replacing a route the new building will block. Here’s a video by the city showing its impressive layout:
The new facility would not be complete without OV-fiets, the Dutch bicycle share system which is linked to its railways — more on Dutch bicycle sharing will be covered in an upcoming article:
This series on Dutch cycling will continue, covering issues such as public bicycle sharing the Dutch way, why we are more like the Dutch than we think, and more. Check some of the other articles in the series:
MORE: Dutch bicycle parking: From on-street to multi-story
IMAGES: Typical Dutch cycling
IMAGES: Dutch cycle paths; And how we can stop getting it so horribly wrong
IMAGES: How the Dutch allow bicycles to flow like water
IMAGES: How Dutch bicycles are designed to carry what people need