A huge new bicycle parking garage in The Hague

billet en français

The city of The Hague quietly opened the second largest bicycle parking facility in the Netherlands earlier today together with the Dutch Railways. The garage, at the city’s Central Station, has room to park about 8,500 bicycles and that includes 600 OV-Fiets public transport bicycles to rent out. All the racks are in a single space, an over 8,100 square metre basement directly under the square in front of the station building. The facility would have been opened at 2 April this year, but that opening party had to be cancelled due to the Corona pandemic. From today all trains are running again so this is also a good day for this opening of this additional bicycle parking – The Hague already had an underground parking garage for bicycles, this one is extra.

The cycleway inside the huge new bicycle parking garage in The Hague. The green lines on the floor indicated where you may cycle. Left: art on the wall that seems to be textured but is actually glass with a lit picture behind it.

The opening of this huge bicycle parking garage was not only postponed due to Corona, it was pushed forward several times. At the start of construction it was planned for February 2018, almost 2 and a half years ago! Not quite what the city intended when it said a state of the art bicycle facility was needed quickly in 2014! The facility will be in the basement of a huge building that would have been built right in front of the station building. That station building is a brutalist 1970s high rise and many people will not mind at all that it will be obscured by a fresh new building. Unfortunately, that project, with residential and commercial spaces, ran into a lot of trouble in the planning phase and kept being postponed. It is impossible to build a basement of a building when that building on top of said basement hasn’t even been designed yet. It is obviously necessary to take into account that that building needs a foundation, columns to stand on, but where and what load will they need to bear? The city waited and waited and if there is one thing that costs a lot of money it is a building project that sits idle. Once the plans were final and it was clear where the two 90 metre tall towers would be located the construction of the basement could finally start. The parking garage itself then also ran into some difficulties. The desired underground passage to the station hall proved impossible to build for the budget that was set. This tunnel would have connected the new underground parking with the already existing underground parking garage under the station hall. When no parties could be interested to build this tunnel in the public tender even when it was repeated, the tunnel was scrapped from the plan. People will now exit the garage in front of the station building, not in the station building hall. The two underground garages will function separately. The construction of the garage had already started by the time the tunnel was scrapped so this whole project was definitely not the easiest for the city of The Hague. In the end it went over budget by 5.5 million Euros and that means the garage cost well over 42 million euros of which the city has to pay about half.

The entrance with six travelators feels a bit temporary and that is because it is. The building over the basement will only be constructed from the end of 2020.
This same entrance when the building over it is finished will look very different! Rendering via the municipality of The Hague.

Hopefully that will all be forgotten soon, although the project is far from finished. The construction of the building on top of the garage is now planned to start at the end of 2020. That means the entrances, that would be part of that building, had to get a temporary cover. There are now three ‘tents’ to keep rainwater out of the new facility. Building regulations may force parts of the new garage to be closed for safety reasons. When you build a 90 metre tall tower it is not a good idea to have the general public walking directly under your building activities. First the city wanted to postpone opening this facility until the construction would be in a safe stage, but that will take at least another year and that was simply too much. In a letter to the council the alderman explains that the city has instructed the contractor to make sure the facility remains safely accessible during the entire building process. We’ll see if that is feasible.

The area on top of the parking garage is this fenced off building site.
This same location a couple of years from now will feature two almost 90 metre tall towers and a lower connecting building. The areas will be connected with the park in front of the station. Pedestrians will no longer have to cross a busy road to get there in the future. This will be finished by 2023 at the soonest. Rendering via the developer of the building.

Let’s finally have a look at the actual parking garage, because that is beautiful! The city of The Hague was kind enough to invite me to have a look inside just a few days before the opening. I was allowed to use one of the 600 OV-rental bikes to ride around in the building before any bicycle was parked there. I felt like a kid in a candy store, an empty candy store, but I was told I rode around with a big smile on my face.

This map provided by the city of The Hague shows that the three entrances to the parking garage are in the middle of the building site. It will be a challenge to keep them safely open during the whole construction phase.
One of the two entrances for walking. This one takes you to the entrance of the station building.

This bicycle parking facility has room to park about 8,500 bicycles in 18 rows of two tier racks. These racks are very common for the Netherlands, but I had never seen so many in one bright open space of about 8,100 square metres. The bigger facility in Utrecht is very different with its three floors. There you can almost not assess how big the facility really is. In this garage the ceiling is kept extra high at 3.5 metres and everything has been painted a very bright white to give the space an extra light atmosphere. The art on the walls tries to emphasise that even more. A glass wall, lit from below, shows pictures of iconic details of buildings in The Hague. The lights in this art piece are also meant to make you forget you are in a basement.

Seeing the facility without parked bicycles is spectacular. The sheer size is very impressive. I wonder what it will look like full.

The facility will be run by The Hague. The city hired a firm to manage the garage. The check-in/check-out system is similar to most other modern Dutch station bicycle parking garages and so is the pricing. You use your public transport chip card (or a day pass that you can get from staff) and the first 24 hours are free. After that you pay €1.25 per additional 24 hours (€2.5 for odd sized bicycles).

The 600 bicycles from the rental scheme of the Dutch railways are ready to be rented out.
Due to the Coronavirus there are measures to make the rental procedure contact-free.

On the street in front of the main entrance the city created an extra bicycle crossing on the intersection Bezuidenhoutseweg/Rijnstraat to make it safely possible for many people at the same time to reach the parking garage. If all goes well the building activities will be finished at the end of 2022. Only then the public space around the buildings will be reconstructed in a permanent way. The station will get a much better connection with the park right in front of the station. It would mean that by 2023 the entire station area will finally be finished. The Hague will then have a beautiful station in a beautiful green setting as well as for the Netherlands still exceptional high rises. The new parking garage is already open today, enjoy the video!

My portait of the new bicycle parking garage in The Hague.





16 thoughts on “A huge new bicycle parking garage in The Hague

  1. I am a wee bit confused. “…first 24 hours are free. After that you pay”, does that mean that if one parks the within a 24 hour time, it would be free, every 24 hours, or one is allowed to park for 24 hours and any time/day after that they will have to pay? So one get a 24 hour free parking, and anytime after ones freebie one pays?

    1. Yes park for a shorter period than 24 hours and it is always free. No matter how often you do it. Park for a single period of 25 hours and you pay €1.25 on check-out. Park 49 hours without checking out and you pay €2.50. For people working outside The Hague and parking every morning and picking the bike up after work every day it is always free.

  2. I guess that most of the +42 millions euros have been spent for building the strong fondations of the future towers rather than for the garage itself.

  3. I dream of the day when all cities have this. One day, hopefully not too long in the future. Hopefully not before climate change makes Covid-19 look like a mild cold.

  4. Reblogged this on road-cyclist.com and commented:
    Isn’t this beautiful. Can you imagine any British city doing anything remotely approaching this wonder? No, me neither. If cycling is to become a normalised mode of everyday transport, then these kind of things need to be seriously considered in all cities in the UK and beyond. Climate change is going to make Covid-19 look like a mild cold, and we are wasting precious time, that the planet doesn’t have, when action is required and now.

    1. It took the Netherlands some 40 years to achieve the current level of bicycle friendliness.
      The first conscious efforts to make cycling more attractive and safe happened in the 80s of the previous century.
      So I wouldn’t expect Britain to achieve this kind of thing in the next decade. But maybe you’ll manage to convince some councils to build cycle lanes that are at least as wide as the handle bars 😃

      1. If the Dutch had the climate crisis breathing down their necks back then like we do now, then they could have done it incredibly fast.

        1. I don’t know of any infrastructure in the Netherlands (or anything at all) being build incredibly fast. Apart from complicated soil and existing infrastructure (including undocumented cables underground) there are legal restrictions to deal with. In the case of big infrastructure projects you have several layers of quite autonomous government with their own agendas (often participating financially) and lastly there is the legally required phase of involving citizens to have their say. Sometimes organised groups of citizens go to the highest court because the project seems to be in conflict with some interest. Including nature protection policies. That also includes certain species with a habitat that needs compensation for example. Both short and long term consequences of a project need to be calculated in detail. https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maatschappelijke_kosten-batenanalyse

          But yes, a dictatorship could hire a Dutch construction company to build something fast and that could indeed happen. Elsewhere. And I look forward to how that company will get a slurry of investigative reports from journalists documenting the bribery that comes with it.

          1. I get that, but surely there must be a possibility to expedite certain aspects of the process in a crisis if not the whole thing depending on the severity of the situation?

      2. It would be nice to encourage any safety measures and infrastructure. We have had enough of deaths and injuries in Edinburgh and the rest of the UK this week alone.

        1. In terms of bicycle parking, Copenhagen would probably not be a very good model. The lack of bicycle parking has been a long standing problem, and one that even Mikael Colville-Andersen has noted on his blog more than once. Also, many of their double level racks don’t have the gas-assist, so you have to physically lift your bike into the upper level, which really sucks when you are short and have a heavy bike!

          But there are plans to change the central station apparently, and the latest renderings seem to utilize the gas-assist double-racks as seen all over the Netherlands. The only thing done better in terms of cycling in Copenhagen (not sure about other Danish cities) is that you can bring your bike onto the S-trains for free and at all times (except at Central station during rush hour). You don’t have to lift your bike onto these trains and there are specific compartments to store bikes. I know the S-train is not directly comparable to NS and the level of cycling is also higher in the Netherlands. But it can be an absolute pain to bring a regular bike onto a Dutch train.

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