Bikes, bikes everywhere – but only in the Netherlands!

bike-garage-2-1 - CopyIn the second of our stories focused on the Dutch city of Utrecht we look at the cycling infrastructure of the city.

Utrecht is a bit like Coventry, located in the centre of the country. It is the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands and has a population of 347.574 compared to Coventry’s population 360,100. In the past few years, Utrecht has been committed to improving its urban sustainability with a wide range of environmental projects.

Beneath the railway station in Utrecht lies the world’s biggest bicycle garage which can accommodate a staggering 12,500 bikes.

bike-garage-3 - CopyThe 17,100 sq metre Cycle Park project focuses on three main design aspects of convenience, speed and safety. With this in mind, the plan was to separate it into units for parking and paths, marked in red, which safely navigate users around the garage without bumping into each other. Covering three levels, the cycle lanes incorporate slow ramps, allowing cyclists to pedal from their parking slot at the bottom all the way to the ground level square. It is free for the first 24 hours and then rises to E1.25 a day thereafter.

Another interesting cycling project in Utrecht is this 110 metre cycle bridge over the Amsterdam-Rhine canal. The bridges doubles as the roof of a school opened to the public last year.

Screen Shot 2019-08-10 at 18.40.11 - CopyThe dream of the cyclists came true when a number of countries like Denmark and the Netherlands paid more attention to “Bridges and Passageways Only for Bikes”.

A bridge like this would be great in Coventry connecting the city centre with the Canal Basin.

Screen Shot 2019-08-10 at 18.41.40 - CopyIn Utrecht 43% of all journeys less than 7.5 km are undertaken by bike, an increase from 40% five years ago. In the Netherlands as a whole there are 1.3 bikes for every person! But this huge level of bike usage hasn’t come about by accident. The climate in the Netherlands is similar to Britain and whilst people say that the Netherlands is flat, it isn’t all flat and the winds in Holland are known as the Dutch hills. The big difference is one of policy and incentives.

Dutch people use their bikes instead of their cars because it’s more practical and economic to do so. Who can forget those old photos of Coventry factories at the end of the shift with hundreds of bike users waiting to cycle home. But in Britain we have turned our back on the bicycle and all of our policy approaches have been about making the city more usable by motorists. However this is all set to change. With the city and the whole country committed to reducing carbon emissions and reducing NOX pollution the humble bicycle might quickly be making a comeback and we couldn’t go far wrong in following the leadership of a city such as Utrecht.

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