The Netherlands is the only country in the world that has more bicycles than inhabitants; a quarter of all journeys are made on bikes. Serious money is being spent on developing this transportation sector, for example, this multi-storey facility in Utrecht that has 12,500 parking places.
Leaving bikes in public spaces is unsightly and it encourages theft, which in turn consumes police and insurance resources and it represents an expensive inconvenience for the owners.
The parking facility is jointly developed and managed by the Municipality of Utrecht, ProRail and NS (Dutch Railways). ProRail is a government organisation that takes care of maintenance of the railway network infrastructure. In addition the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management invested in the project.
The guarded parking facility has three floors: the lower and upper for “day-parkers”; and the ground floor is for riders that have subscriptions. Users can enter and leave on both sides and the continuous cycle path operates a one-way traffic system that has a speed limit.
A smartphone app can be used to indicate the availability of parking spaces and a total of 161 digital signs are used to direct cyclists to those spaces. Cyclists check in with the “OV” chip card which is used on public transport services: buses as well as trains.
It is easy to reach the train platforms. This makes Utrecht Central Station a multi-modal public transport hub. Parking is free parking for the first 24 hours, after that a charge is made on the OV card. Monitors ensure that the parking facilities are used correctly, that bicycles are properly in the racks and that the access to the platforms is maintained.
The monitors also ensure that bicycles left in the racks for longer than 28 days are removed. In addition to the 12,500 parking spaces there is has space for 1,000 public transport bicycles, payment also being via OV cards. A service center that fixes and changes tyres is the icing on the parking cake.
- Efficient, cost-effective parking
- Innovative smart city transportation hub
The author is freelance technology writer, Bob Emmerson