As It Happens

World's largest bicycle parking garage opens in the Netherlands

Grand openings for parking garages don't usually make international news. But they do in the the Dutch city of Utrecht, which just opened the world's largest garage for bicycles.
Two cyclists parks their bikes in the world's largest bike parking garage in Utrecht, Netherlands, on Aug. 21, 2017. (Michael Kooren/Reuters)

Story transcript

Grand openings for parking garages don't usually make international news. But they do in the Netherlands' city of Utrecht, which just opened the world's largest garage for bicycles.

The three-storey parking garage, situated next to the city's main train station, can house up to 6,000 bicycles, and its capacity will reach 12,500 once it's completed in 2018. Parking will be free for the first 24 hours and 1.25 euro for each following day.

The move by authorities in the city of 344,000 aims to prevent a sprawling clutter of bicycles outside its main train station, overwhelming limited parking space.

Tatjana Stenfert Kroese is the project manager for Utrecht Station Square. (VINU)
"In the city of Utrecht, this is necessary, because a lot of people are coming to the station by bike," Tatjana Stenfert Kroese, project manager for Utretcht Station Square, told As It Happens' guest host Jim Brown.

Kroese notes that because bicycle theft is so common in Utrecht, many commuters have a cheaper bicycle that they use for a weekday commute.

This "station bike," as she calls it, would be in addition to more expensive, higher quality bikes people own and ride for leisure.

"This is a side-effect of the success of the bicycle in our cities," city councillor Lot van Hooijdonk told Reuters. "We are happy so many people use bikes, but it creates huge challenges for the city, especially around the station."
 
The Dutch love of cycling is increasingly being tested by a shortage of parking space. An ever-growing number of bikes is forcing municipal authorities to spend millions of euros on state-of-the art parking venues, maintaining cycling lanes, removing wrecks and impounding badly-parked bikes.

A cyclist rides her bike through the parking garage. (Michael Kooren/Reuters)

Despite the challenges, Kroese favours a city of bicycles over a city of cars and other motor vehicles.

"When you see a city has lots of biking lanes, it's also a nicer city to be in, because [there aren't] a lot of cars driving around. It's much safer with bicycles than when you have a lot of cars around," she says.

Elsewhere in The Netherlands, The Hague plans a garage for 8,500 bikes while Amsterdam — with 835,000 people and approximately 847,000 bikes — is working on a storage space for thousands under the city's Amstel river and linked to its central station.

With files from Reuters.

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