A monster parking garage for cyclists has been officially opened in the Netherlands, the biggest facility of its kind in the world.
The new building includes 12,500 spaces for bikes in double-decker racks over three floors in the heart of Utrecht.
Politicians in the Netherlands continue to pave the way when it comes to cycling infrastructure, as lawmakers are trying to encourage more people to cycle with world-class bike paths and now a multi-storey car park.
Junior infrastructure minister Stientje van Veldhoven told The Guardian (opens in new tab): “We are striving to make it a cyclist’s paradise and there’s still much to be done.
“If you want to get people out of their cars and into public transport is easy and comfortable, it needs to be very easy to park your bike as close to the train as possible.”
The huge facility, which includes 480 parking spaces for larger and unusual machines like cargo bikes and tandems, sits on the station square in Utrecht, encouraging cyclists to combine a two-wheeled commute with public transport.
Cycling is ingrained in the Dutch DNA after major investment in two-wheeled transport started in the 1970s.
A post-war boom in car use in Amsterdam led to 3,000 people being killed in 1971, 450 of them children, with money then being spent to improve cyclist safety.
That investment has resulted in 400km of bike paths across the city, with around half of journeys being undertaken by bike.
Earlier this year, a nationwide transport strike in the Netherlands became an opportunity for Amsterdam’s cyclists, as a car-only tunnel was turned into a highway for bikes.
The 1.6km-long IJtunnel connects the centre of Amsterdam with the north of the city and is usually only open to motor vehicles.
But as Dutch workers went on strike across the nation in May and transport ground to a halt, officials opted to take the unique opportunity and open the tunnel to cyclists.
The Dutch are predicting that there will be 500,000 more people moving to urban areas in the next 10 years, so politicians are proactively encouraging cycling and use of public transport to keep the nation moving.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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