Move over Tokyo, your world’s largest bicycle garage has been dethroned. The Utrecht Stationsstalling (Station Bicycle Parking Garage) in the Netherlands ceremonially opened on 19th August 2019 and is already making headlines. Let’s see why.

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With 12,656 parking spaces, including 480 spaces for atypical, larger or oddly-shaped rides such cargo bikes and tandems, the parking facility integrated into the Utrecht’s central railway station easily breaks the previous record, held by the bike parking garage of the Japanese capital with mere 9,400 parking spaces. It was no easy feat – the construction took almost 5 years and the price tag reached over 30 million EUR. The project was divided into three stages that were build and successively opened as time went while the train station remained fully operational at all times, which is almost unbelievable but also explains the prolonged construction period. The first stage opened with “measly” 6,000 parking spaces in August 2017 and that number more than doubled with the facility’s recent completion.

The construction took almost five years. © Profimedia, Avalon Editorial, Wang Yanan

The Tokyo’s bicycle garage at the Kasai station operates with automated lifts that securely store your bike in a shaft up to 15 meters underground that isn’t accessible to humans. The Dutch facility does not rely on such a sophisticated mechanical system that may be prone to malfunctions. You can simply cycle into the Utrecht garage. Pedestrian sections are floor-marked grey and the incorporated cycle lanes are marked red.

Cyclists with a disability and cyclists with a subscription will be allowed to park next to the main cycle path while others can use a lift or a ramp to the first floor or the basement to park their bikes. For the first 24 hours, all parking is free and each additional 24-hour period costs you only 1.25 EUR. To help cyclists navigate the three-floor garage, there are electric light signs to indicate vacant spaces and large lot numbers on the floor near the racks to help cyclists find where they are parked.

There are electric light signs to indicate vacant spaces. © Profimedia, AFP, Abdullah Asiran

The premises were also designed with everyone’s safety in mind, according to Lidwien van Kessel of ProRail, the rail company that co-sponsored the project alonside the city of Utrecht and the Dutch Ministry of Transport. “It is light everywhere and you can look through to different levels in different places. In addition, the parking facility is guarded and there are cameras. As a woman, I will also just pick up my bike here at ten in the evening,” said van Kessel.

The whole structure can be used as a handy cycling underpass because the facility is so large, more specifically 350 meters long, that is was designed for indoor cycling. Therefore, you can enter the Stationsstalling without the intention to park there – you can use it as a shortcut without any sort of toll. It’s a quite an amazing ride as the whole place is an architectural gem of skylights, concrete, and steel and it takes almost a minute to cross, as you can see in the video below.

However, Utrecht’s growing demand for bicycle parking isn’t at an end. The authorities and city planners are already looking at other options how to accommodate the ever-growing cycling army as the future projections show that the Stationsstalling’s capacity will be reached in 2025 or sooner, so the city is already searching for new solutions since 53% of the travellers arrive at the Utrecht railways station by bicycle.

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