As a university town and major traffic hub in the Netherlands, bike usage in Utrecht is incredibly high. Yet keeping the two-wheeled vehicles at its main station has become a problem.
An ocean full of bikes enveloping the square in front of the station has become a common sight. Finding bikes again after depositing has become a problem, whilst they are also regularly targeted by thieves. That is all set to change, however; the city has just opened the world's largest parking garage for bikes.
The storage facility is split across three floors. Numbered storage racks and various colours differentiate the different sections, whilst monitors at the entrance display how many of the total 12,500 places are still available.
Whether users should pay for the use of the storage facilities is a hotly disputed topic. Wim Bot from the Dutch Cyclist's Federation commented that "our cyclists are simply not used to paying for parking".
Bike parking places do carry a certain cost with them: installing a single wheel-mounted storage spot in Utrecht costs €3,000, which rises to €7,000 in Amsterdam.
A compromise has been found in Utrecht. The first 24 hours of storage cost nothing. It means that those who use their bike as part of their daily commute can still do so for free. They now also know that their bikes are safely waiting exactly where they left them.
To find out more, visit deutschlandfunk.de (in German).