Sunday 18 March 2018

Biggest bike parking garage has room for 12,500

A cyclist rides her bike in the world's largest bike parking garage in Utrecht, Netherlands. Photo: Reuters
A cyclist rides her bike in the world's largest bike parking garage in Utrecht, Netherlands. Photo: Reuters

Bart Meijer in Amsterdam

The city of Utrecht in the cycling-mad Netherlands yesterday opened what it said would be the world's largest parking garage for bikes, with room for 12,500 once completed next year.

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

The number of bikes has overwhelmed the limited parking space.

"This is a side-effect of the success of the bicycle in our cities," city councillor Lot van Hooijdonk said.

"We are happy so many people use bikes, but it creates huge challenges for the city, especially around the station," he added.

The Dutch love for cycling is increasingly being tested by a worsening 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.

Utrecht's €40m garage is designed to resolve the problem of cyclists leaving their bikes anywhere they want, preferably next to the station entrance.

The three-storey garage will be directly linked to the street by bicycle paths and offer access to train platforms via elevators and stairs.

Parking will be free for the first 24 hours, and will then cost €1.25 for each following day.

Elsewhere, the Hague plans a garage for 8,500 bikes while Amsterdam - with 835,000 people and around 847,000 bikes - is working on developing a storage space for thousands of bikes at a site under the city's Amstel river, and linked to its central station.

Parking space in Amsterdam is scarce partly because of the many bikes that are left behind in and around the racks.

Last year the Dutch capital removed some 24,000 neglected bikes and 40,000 were seized for parking violations.

Irish Independent

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