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Trendsetting: Denmark and the Netherlands are showing the way

Changing people’s mobility patters is fuelled by new offerings for cyclists and by future-proof examples allowing global imitation. This is why a glance to the North is always worthwhile. The web-platform “Cycling Solutions” compiles exemplary Danish infrastructure examples. Meanwhile, Utrecht has constructed an impressive example: The largest cycling garage in the world. All the way around the globe in the South in Auckland these examples are being happily imitated and cited in a new cycling strategy.

Cycling like the Danes

The “Cycling Embassy of Denmark” – just like CycleCompetence Austria it is one of the four cycling embassies in Europe – has created a new, comprehensive online information portal on the topic of cycle traffic: “Cycling Solutions”.

On cyclingsolutions.info manifold subjects around the theme of cycling traffic in Denmark are being touched upon. The platform as well as some of the solutions presented on it can serve as a model for similar information campaigns and traffic solutions. The information compiled on this website range from infrastructure design to cost analysis and provide valuable know-how.

The platform combines practical tips on how to realise multi-modality, intelligent traffic systems or how to plan cities with good cycling infrastructure. For those who are wondering what cycle highways, cyclists turning at red or warnings about lorries turning right look like in real life can get detailed information on the website.

Apart from urban cycling traffic the website also covers cycling tourism and cycling as sport. By the way, Austria is mainly mentioned in the category cycling tourism (including a picture of cyclists in Tyrol). Vienna is mentioned alongside other cities offering an urban bike rental system (“City Bike”).

The Danes are proud of their cycling-friendly “street furniture” such as special bins along cycling routes, footrests at traffic lights, cycling service stations or removing snow from cycling paths in winter. Various examples from Denmark are being presented on the Website. But there is also a guide on how to collect good data on cycling to use it in political discussions or other decision-making processes on the subject.

Utrecht’s giant garage: three levels with guidance system

The underground garage recently opened in Utrecht offers space for 12,500 bicycles. It was constructed to top up the existing 33,000 cycle parking spaces at the city’s main train station. With the modern cycling garage Utrecht has replaced Tokyo from the first place in the category of cycle parking. Up until now the Japanese capital had the largest cycling garage with space for 9,400 bicycles.

A worldwide unique feature of the Utrecht solution is that you can ride your bicycle directly to the parking space in any of the three subterranean levels – as is shown in this video:

The guarded cycle garage in Utrecht is open 24/7 and the first 24 hours parking are free of charge. There are also 1,000 park&ride-bikes available to be rented in combination with a public transport ticket. Further, there are special parking spaces for out-of-size bicycles like tandems. The guidance system helps to find free spaces. Additionally there is a service point for bicycle repairs inside the garage.

Is the biggest just big enough?

Various media all around the globe reported about the opening of the “world’s largest bicycle garage” in Utrecht. But in the Netherlands themselves both the cycling association Fietserbond as well as the administration of the city of Utrecht are cautioning that the new parking garage barely meets the current demand. Cycling traffic in the city has increased by 40% since 2005 and stood at 47% of the modal split in 2017. Bicycles are used for around 45% of all routes in the city under 7.5km, according to Fietserbond. The following chart shows the growth in cycle traffic in Utrecht vs. the decline in car traffic.

Overall, there are 22.5 million bicycles in the Netherlands – and 17 Million inhabitants. This is the reason why cycling infrastructure plays a major part in the new climate agreement (to be downloaded here in Dutch) the Dutch government signed over the summer. Apart from other measures €75m are to be spent on parking spaces for bicycles at major transport hubs. Another major factor in reducing emissions is the increased use of cargo-bikes in city logistics.

Role model at the other end of the world

The city of Auckland in New Zealand has taken a few sheets out of the Dutch, Swedish and Belgium cycling books: The “design guide” for the new street layout in the city frequently cites European examples. This makes it a good example for international inspiration. The PDF can be viewed here.

The design guide not only excellently uses, for example, Dutch models to create new cycling streets. Its 110 pages also cover all major aspects of state-of-the-art traffic planning ranging from street types to safe designs for crossings and speed limits. It can actually be seen as an internationally comprehensible English-language collection of state-of-the-art cycling traffic solutions.

Pictures: cyclingsolutions.info, City of Utrecht, VCÖ, Reuters, Auckland Design Guide

Posted on October 7, 2019