All about cycling in the Netherlands
The league of Dutch cities with a huge underground bicycle parking facility near their main train stations has grown again. Maastricht opened the latest bike parking garage on the first day of 2018. It has room to park 3,000 bicycles, 5.5 metres under the station square. It is guarded, has a repair service and parking your bicycle is free for the first 24 hours.
At 6:50 in the morning on New Year’s Day, the first bicycles could be parked in the brand new bicycle parking garage directly under the station square of Maastricht (population 123,000). A huge modern canopy covers the entrance. Two 30-metre-long travelators (one going down and one going up) give an easy access to the parking garage at 5.5 metres below the surface. The purpose of this garage was to increase the amount of available bicycle parking racks. A second aim was give the station area a “quality impulse”. In other words, to get the sea of bicycles, that were parked in front of the station up to now, out of sight. Few other structures give away that this underground parking facility exists. There is a staircase for access by foot and finally a round stone bench has appeared with a glass plate in the centre. That glass plate is actually a sky light that floods the underground structure with natural light.
There is room to park 3,000 bicycles in two tier racks, the type that you can find all over the Netherlands, with a hydraulic system that assists people using the upper rack. That total number also includes 100 rental bicycles of the OV-Fiets scheme and the special places for bicycles of types that wouldn’t fit in a rack. There is room for 80 such “extraordinary bicycles”; cargo bikes, tandems, bicycles with baskets or the heavy e-bikes. The Maastricht facility has a completely separated room for 40 mopeds or scooters, which is not something you often see in other facilities. It is good that the smelly machines are kept behind closed glass doors.
The first 24 hours of parking are free. This has become the norm in the Netherlands at railway stations. After that initial day parking a bicycle costs €1.25 per day. If you plan to park your bicycle for longer periods, an annual subscription might be more attractive, at €75,00 per year. You check your bicycle in by swiping your public transport chip card. If you don’t have such a card you can buy an anonymous one for €7.50, that you can then always use. You check out with the people who are guarding the facility. The same people who can also do repairs and take care of the rental bicycles. The parking fee for cargo bikes and mopeds is €2.50 per day and €150,00 for a one-year subscription.
This facility is open daily. In the morning from 15 minutes before the first train leaves Maastricht, until late in the night, 15 minutes after the last train arrived. The closing hour is a bit dynamic. When the train is delayed, this facility stays open until 15 minutes after the actual arrival time of the last train that day. These opening times mean that the garage really only closes for a little under 4 hours of the night during the week.
In 2015, the city council of Maastricht agreed to build this facility. The public and private organisations involved were the municipality of Maastricht, both railway companies, the Province of Limburg and the agency to improve the accessibility of Maastricht. The total budget was 13 million euros. The rail building company ProRail took care of 4.2 million of the total budget. Thomas Kemme Architects designed the facility.
A total of 13 million euros for 3,000 parking spaces means that every parking space cost € 4.333. Which is a considerable amount, but much less than creating an underground car parking space. The building time was about one and a half years, from late April 2016 to the first day of 2018.
To celebrate the opening of this facility people who came to park their bicycles received a free healthy snack (an apple) in the first few weeks. When I was filming, the balloons from the opening were also still there. Maastricht is very happy with this new facility and rightly so!
This week’s video shows the ins and outs
of the new Maastricht bicycle parking facility.