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A 'cyclist's' paradise

ENVIRONMENT

The Dutch city of Utrecht —best known for its canals, Christian monuments, and Gothic bell tower — now has another claim to fame: the world’s largest multistorey parking space just for bicycles. Housed over three floors under the train station in central Utrecht, the building has room for 12,500 bikes — of all shapes and sizes. With the Netherlands struggling to meet its green commitments, politicians are keen to encourage more bike use among the population.


One such politician — junior infrastructure minister Stientje van Veldhoven — told The Guardian: “I’d like us to make better use of what I call this secret weapon against congestion, poor air quality in cities and climate change that is also good for your health and your wallet. If you want to get people out of their cars and into public transport, you need to make sure using public transport is easy and comfortable. It needs to be very easy to park your bike as close to the train as possible — and you don’t want to be looking for half an hour for a space.”

The concrete and steel bike park is open 24/7 and features a continuous cycle path that operates a one-way system with a 15km/h speed limit; parking wardens patrol the levels to ensure traffic rules are obeyed. A digital system has been installed to direct cyclists to empty parking spots, and there are service points for repairs and maintenance. All levels provide easy access to the train platforms above. “We are striving to make [Utrecht] a cyclists’ paradise,” said Van Veldhoven, “and there’s still much to be done.”


ABOVE The parking space houses three floors of double-decker bike racks

PHOTO Michael Kooren/Reuters

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