When parking in the street becomes a problem, indoor parking is a solution. In the old city of Utrecht, street parking of cars is almost impossible. The roads are too narrow and the city is a labyrinth of one way streets. It is far more easy to take the bike and park it just in front of the store or pub you want to visit. So thousands of visitors of Utrecht park their bicycle everyday on the Oude Gracht and other shopping streets. it becomes that crowded with bicycles, that these gatherings become a problem. Bicycles in front of shop windows, at the fence of bridges, at trees, and everywhere else, they are the sign of a healthy and happy city. On the other hand, streets become obstructed and it scares people with expensive bicycles. With the growing number of bicycles, the chance an expensive bicycle will be stolen or damaged grows. These owners are willing to park their bike a bit further away when there is a safe place.
Today the city of Utrecht opened a premium bike parking garage to give the visitors and residents of the old city the chance to park their bike on a safe spot. With space for only 200 bicycles it is the smallest bicycle parking garage in the city, but a valuable chain in the network of guarded bicycle parkings. The first day parking is free of charge, every other day you have to pay €0,50 a day.
An annual subscription costs 65 euros and allows access to all guarded bicycle parkings in the city (except of the train station). Neighbors can also subscribe and have an electronic key to allow them access 24 hours a day. Some tools in a separated corner provide small do it yourself reparations. The building itself dates from the 17th century and was in use as a shop, but vacant for years. The city rents the ground floor and basement and had it renovated by students of the local artisan school. Some old details give the building an historic touch, like the different stones used to build the cellars. This makes the bike parking not just an ordinary parking, but combined with the location at the beginning of the Zadelstraat (the cosy street right in front of the world famous Dom tower) the flagship store of bike parking.
The opening today was well timed as it was a “Cultural Sunday” and most shops were open. Also, in 17 days the Dutch will have local elections, a good chance for deputy-mayor of transport and culture, Frits Lintmeijer, to draw away the red velvet to open this magnificent piece of bicycle parking. More pictures of this event at my Flickr-gallery.