THE trilling of spokes, cyclists rounding the bend in unison: no, this is not the Tour de France. It is the new underground bicycle park at Utrecht Central railway station, which opened last year. Three storeys deep, with electronic monitors indicating where spaces are available, it has room to park 7,500 bicycles. “It’s a bit of a maze,” says Xander Staal, who takes a picture of his bike’s berth as an aide-memoire each morning before commuting to Amsterdam.
The Netherlands is experiencing an underground bike-park boom, as cities race each other to build the largest. The Hague had hoped to overtake Utrecht this spring with a new park with 8,500 places, but that has been delayed by construction problems. Later this year Utrecht’s park will expand to 12,500 slots, surpassing a 9,400-space one in Tokyo to become the largest in the world. Amsterdam is playing catch-up: a 4,000-space garage is to be built next to its central…Continue reading