Amsterdam's underwater bike garage opens with 7,000 spaces

In Amsterdam, where bikes outnumber residents and are used for more than a third of all trips in urban areas, storage had become a problem in need of creative solutions.

Indeed, those fishing for bicycles in Amsterdam yank more than 12,000 of them out of the city's canals each year. And their presence is problematic at street level too, particularly around Amsterdam Central Station where people pedal in from all directions and squeeze their bikes into cluttered racks by the thousands.

But a state-of-the-art facility has now swung open its doors, offering the people of Amsterdam a safe and streamlined way to secure their bikes.

Credit: Dutch Cycling Embassy

Twelve years in the making, the station's freshly-finished Stationsplein bike garage is the largest in Amsterdam and sits underneath the water between the station's island and Prins Hendrikkade, one of the city's major streeets. Construction began in 2018 and involved first pumping water from the basin in order to lay the floor for the expansive new garage.

Credit: City of Amsterdam

The €50 million (A$77 million) effort culminated in a long-awaited opening on Saturday 28 January 2023, with visitors now able to make use of 7,000 spaces on offer.

Access is gained with a Dutch public transport smart card or a newer system that uses bicycle tags for automatic recognition, allowing for smoother entry and exit.

Once inside, green lights are used to indicate availability of spaces, while panoramic artwork depicting the history of Amsterdam decorates the walls. The first 24 hours of parking are free, after which a daily rate of €1.35 (A$2.08) applies. A bike servicing area is on site if visitors are in need of a tune-up.

And those unable to find a spot at Stationsplein will soon have another option to turn to. Nearby, an underground bike garage called IJboulevard is nearing completion behind the station, which will offer space for 4,000 further bicycles once it opens in February.

Together, these underwater bike garages will create more space for pedestrians around Amsterdam Central Station, with street-level racks to be removed in the coming weeks. This is part of a broader strategy by the city to restore the station to its former glory of circa 1900, with easy access and pleasant, open surroundings.

You can hear from the City of Amsterdam's Pieter Visser, project manager for the Stationsplein bike garage, in the video from the Dutch Cycling Embassy below.

Lead image supplied by Dutch Cycling Embassy.

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