Amsterdam's new, modern underground car park for 7000 bicycles
Photo: Dutch Cycling Embassy
If you want to park your bike at Amsterdam Central Station in the future, you first have to gently curve down a ramp – under water.
It goes past curved columns, the lighting is soft, almost like a museum.
Round ceiling paintings show ships from bygone times.
It is an unusually beautiful underground car park that was opened with a celebration on Saturday in Amsterdam, at least that's what press photos convey.
And the special thing from the perception of the car nation Germany: It is exclusively for cyclists.
With 7,000 spaces, the new garage is the largest in the city.
Check-in is contactless, the first 24 hours are free.
The project was worked on for four years, and the construction costs amounted to an impressive 60 million euros.
The garage is the final piece in the puzzle of the extensive redesign of the large square in front of Amsterdam Central Station, which began in 2017.
Above ground, the square was cleared of cars and underground expanded with a new subway station.
In addition, some construction mistakes from the 20th century have been consistently dismantled, so that the new main station, like the old one, is completely surrounded by harbor water.
Back to the year 1900
A statement from the city proudly speaks of the beginning of a “new era”.
The main station will "be a bit like it was around 1900", i.e. "accessible and pleasant, without cars and bicycles parked everywhere and nowhere".
With the new garage, all bicycle racks in the station area will soon disappear to keep the streets safer and cleaner.
Only the Netherlands is making such a big effort to turn around traffic: There are more bicycles than residents across the country, the cycle paths and the entire infrastructure are considered exemplary.
On Twitter, the city illustrates its efforts in a time-lapse video of the construction work.
And other cities are also thinking big: Utrecht, for example, has long had the largest bicycle garage in the country with more than 12,000 parking spaces.
Statistically, far more residents in the university city use their bikes than in the metropolis of Amsterdam.
People have been thinking ahead there for a long time.
In February, another underground bicycle car park will be opened in the station area, offering space for 4,000 bikes.
The city suspects that the two new buildings will do well "for a while".
However, this is not the end of it: "We expect that the demand for bicycle parking spaces around the station will increase."