In the past decades, cities invested heavily in underground car parking. Now we've entered the Age of Cycling, similar infrastructure for bicycles is emerging. Last year, Utrecht opened the world's largest underground bicycle parking garage.
Ector Hoogstad Architecten won the competition to design an underground bicycle parking garage at Utrecht’s Central Station to accommodate the Netherlands’ the city’s widespread bicycle use. The rise of e-bikes, bike-sharing services and daily commuters has made this shift particularly noticeable and necessitating new urban infrastructure.
The new underground bicycle garage has the capacity to hold 12,656 bicycles, surpassing the former largest bicycle parking lot in Tokyo which holds 9,000. It consists of 3 storeys accessible by gently sloping bike lanes spiralling to each level. The bike garage also boasts a repair service and easy access to bike hire services. The parking lot is colour-coded and uses a digital guiding system so the lot can be intuitively navigated. This way, it streamlines the parking process for cyclists and pedestrians and avoids congestion. Even the streets above have been remodelled with a public square and new street systems.
The investment in cycling infrastructure is part of a scheme with hundreds of millions of euros backing it aiming to make bicycling easier and a more attractive mode of transport in the city. But already the Dutch cycling organisation, Fietsersbond, highlight that the new infrastructure does nothing to make everyday journeys any easier by bike when on-street parking is still forbidden.
The new infrastructure geared towards bicycles mirrors the way mass car use was tackled by building multi-storey car parks, garages and driveways for private cars.