Cycle path removed in Utrecht

It must be the first time I show you a cycle path that does not exist anymore. Even in the Netherlands sometimes cycle tracks disappear. There was a cycle path in Utrecht that went between the central railway station and the central bus station. It really only gave access to an underground bicycle parking facility. But it was the one that I used for 16 years. So I rode that cycle path twice a day for 16 years. Until one day… it was gone. And it will never come back. The space is needed for rail road tracks of the railway station. Two narrower platforms couldn’t cope with the number of travelers anymore so the tracks are being moved sideways to widen the platforms and for that the space where the cycle path was is now used. The underground cycle parking is temporarily closed during the moving of the railroad tracks and platforms, but it will come back. The entrance will be relocated so this old underground bicycle parking can be entered from the remaining cycle routes.

stationsplein oost
The station area east. The green line shows the removed cycle path that only gave access to the underground bicycle parking. In red the other cycle routes. The numbers 1, 2 and 3 show from where the artist impressions in the video start. The whole area of the bus station will be redeveloped.

The last day the cycle path was open I filmed the entire length. Since it was known for a long time that this path would be removed you can see that it was poorly maintained. The camera goes up and down with the surface. Also from a social safety point of view this was really not up to standards anymore. So will the Utrecht cyclists have to do with one less cycle path? Yes, actually they do. Since this cycle path was closed in April 2011 and subsequently removed, cyclists had to use the cycle path on the other side of the bus station. But the whole area will be redeveloped and judging from the renderings it will be a big improvement for cyclists. (Apart from a few artist’s mistakes in the design of corners.) Because all other traffic will be removed from this location and it will only be cyclists and pedestrians.

This rendering of the new cycle path got complaints because there is a 90 degree angle for the right turn, impossible and not likely to be built that way in real life. (View from the number 3 in the above picture).

Video showing the removed cycle path and in the second half the new plans opposite the present situation.

3 Floor underground parking for 12,500 bikes

All the area that is now in use as bus station (blue on the above map) will be turned into a station square (as it was before the 1970s). The bus station and the light rail station will be located somewhere else. In the new situation there will be an elevated square with an enormous entirely new bicycle parking facility below it. Three floors will have 12,500 bicycle parking spaces. The second half of the video shows three artist impressions* of how you will reach the square. The above map gives the places where the three impressions start. I have filmed the present situation so you can see them side by side. The whole area will be completely different and having an actual square in front of the station building is really an improvement over the current 1970s situation. But even if you look at the old pictures of the Utrecht station square (that I can still remember a bit as a child) you can see that it never was a nice area to be. So there’s hope that Utrecht finally gets a good station square relatively soon.

Utrecht Central Railway Station 1960s. Not a very pleasant area to be either.
At about the same spot as the 1960s image, this is what it is expected to look like in circa 2017.

* The original video. is also to be found on YouTube. I’ve written before about this huge project, here, and here, and there is a website about it that is partly in English too.

6 thoughts on “Cycle path removed in Utrecht

  1. They are moving the bus station away from the railways station? Doesn’t this defeat integrated transport, and make multi-mode journeys more difficult?

    1. Ah this is very old post. I’ve learned since I wrote it that the bus station will return at the exact same location but then under the new station square. So they don’t move it away at all, it’s only temporarily relocated (to the other side of the tracks).

  2. This post was well timed for me – just a few days before I’d been cycling around Utrecht, and I’d noticed the blocked-off sections of cycle-path amongst all the changes going on there, so it’s good to get the story behind it! We even rode along the short stub of closed-off and retired fietspad that remains (still open in your video at 1:35) and found even that to be better than most UK cycle provision…

  3. Damn, meant laag, not sure how that became a ‘last’ sorry.
    And yeah Hoog Catherina is pretty ugly, though I have fond memories of sitting in the sitting area near where V&D is, eating pizza as a teenager :).
    I grew up around Utrecht in the 90s when my parents worked there, I love going back once a year and seeing how fasts its changing. When I first lived there it had a population of 210,000, now its 300,000, and it will hit 400,000 around 2023 or so. And thats just the gemeente, the whole stads regio area is growing fairly fast too.
    I miss it to bits, I should move back, London is starting to depress me and I’m losing my ability to type in Dutch.

    1. I had to think very hard what you could mean… but “Laag Catharijne” (meaning Lower Catharina) is indeed the name of a bicycle parking and shop that can be found in this area. “Low”, because it is under the big early 1970s mal that is called Hoog Catharijne (High or upper Catharina) because it is elevated. Which in turn is one of the main reasons why the street level is now so ugly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.