And guess what? It's not big enough.
The central station area of Utrecht was a mess, but it is now being completely rebuilt. According to CU2030,
There will be space for culture, leisure, the area will be better accessible and, last but not least: water will flow once again in the canal that was filled in during the '70s. We’re building a future that’s sustainable: low emission buildings, plenty of pleasant space for bikes, public transport and pedestrians, and solar cells on top of the [station] platforms.
One of the more pleasant spaces for bikes is the huge underground bicycle parking lot, soon to be the world’s largest with parking for 12,500 bikes. According to Daniel Boffey in the Guardian, that won’t be enough -- 43 percent of trips under 4.6 miles are now on bikes. He quotes Martijn van Es, a spokesperson for a Dutch cycling organization:
“To quote John Lennon, ‘Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans’,” said Van Es. “By the time the politicians have made their decisions, and by the time things are built, there are more people cycling. It goes up every year in Netherlands.”
Unlike the automated garage in Japan that we showed recently, this is straightforward. You ride your bike down the ramp to a conventional park-it-yourself garage. It’s free for the first 24 hours and then costs €1.25 for longer term parking. But the project manager for the station renewal agrees that it’s not enough:
We will have 12,500 places by the end of 2018. But then we will have to do some research and find more places for the bikes. It never stops. I look around and everyone is trying hard to find spaces – trying hard and fast.
Neem ook alvast een kijkje in de grootste fietsenstalling ter wereld! (video) https://t.co/uZ728BNDNa— Utrechts Nieuwsblad (@redactieadun) August 4, 2017
Coming as I do from a city where even a dinky 380-bike garage under City Hall was a huge political battle that took years, and where there is a drastic shortage of secure places to lock your bike, It's just impossible to imagine this kind of investment, this kind of planning. Perhaps our North American politicians should take a trek to Utrecht and have a look.
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