After my article yesterday on designing cities for bikes I was happy to hear from a number of different sources about the imminent opening of the world’s largest bike parking garage in the city of Utrecht.
The garage will eventually have space for 12,500 bikes to be stored in a secure environment, it will be free of charge for the first 24 hours and after that only €1.25 per day. Utrecht is not the only city in The Netherlands that has plans to open up such a garage, The Hague and Delft (8,500 & 5000 spaces respectively) will be joining the party soon with the launch of new facilities. At the moment Amsterdam has a similar bike garage with 7,000 which they plan to extend in the near future.
What does this tell you about bike usage in the Netherlands, it is growing and continues to do so year on year, with these increases being especially high in urban areas. One of the areas that I highlighted in my piece yesterday about designing for bikes was the lack of space in many cities for citizens to securely park their bikes. The Dutch are showing that when bikes are placed at the heart of the city it can make a real difference to transport mix that people utilise on a daily basis.
The Dutch and the Danes are leading the way in Europe when it comes to bike usage and the rest of Europe should start to take notice and realise that this green and healthy mode of transport can really take a load off the current transport system. To make big changes takes strong leadership and bold choices from those that are running our cities, they need to start to make decisions that are for the real long term and not only to keep people happy now.
Yes, if you start to design cities for bikes you may initially cause anger amongst those that are on the roads all day to earn a living, but by making the change you will be looking to improve the conditions for them going forward. Imagine if a city was able to increase the % of bike travel from 5% up to 30%, in the long term this would take so much transport of the roads that the very people complaining about the changes at the beginning would be the ones benefitting in the end.
Cities should start to look at the bike centric design in Denmark and the Netherlands and take note. Let’s hope that the next city to break the record for bike parking garage is in another European city rather than the Netherlands