The World’s Largest Bike Garage is a Subterranean Wonder in Utrecht

Considering that more than a third of Dutch people use a bike as their main mode of transportation every day, it’s no surprise that the world’s largest bicycle garage is located in Utrecht. Recently completed by the firm Ector Hoogstad Architecten, the cavernous three-story bike parking facility is tucked beneath Utrecht Central Station, which is currently in the midst of a major makeover that aims to make this part of the city more sustainable, walkable and vibrant.

While various “modernizations” in the 60s and 70s made the area around Utrecht Central Station more car-friendly, the ongoing project to update the station is doing the opposite. The growing popularity of e-bikes and rising consciousness about the climate crisis are contributing to more bike riders than ever in the Netherlands, which will require new and modified public transport hubs with plenty of amenities for cyclists.

A modernist building that once connected the railway station to the adjacent shopping mall has been dismantled, allowing for a new public pedestrian street and square to be inserted along with the new bike garage, say the architects.

“The three storey bicycle parking is situated underneath the square. It has been designed with three aims in mind:  convenience, speed and safety. In order to achieve this in a facility of this scale cyclists are enabled to pedal all the way up to their parking slot. The parking lanes branch off the cycle paths, to ensure that users do not get in the way of cyclists passing through the system.”

“Room for mounting and dismounting is left alongside the cycling lanes. Modestly sloping ramps connect the parking areas on different levels The walls are colour-coded to indicate the routing, and electronic  signals indicate the position of free parking slots. Additional facilities such as a cycle repair shop, a cycle rental outlet and several floor managers meet users’ every need.”

“Stairwells and tunnels create direct connections to the elevated square, the main terminal building and the platforms. Ensuring good orientation and plenty of daylight, the stairwells are located inside atria covered by glass roofs. Large windows in the outer walls allow users views toward the platforms and the bus terminal.”

Featuring generous proportions and raw surfaces made of concrete, steel and wood, the garage feels clean and modern, with just as much care and attention given to it as you’d see in a high-profile parking garage for cars in the United States, like Miami’s 1111 Lincoln Road by Herzog de Meuron.

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