Bicycle Parking in Utrecht

A few weeks ago, I posted about the “pop-up” bicycle parking that can be found at certain spots on the weekend. Now there’s going to be more designated bicycle parking around typically busy and popular spots. Beginning October 1, the gemeente (municipality) will begin a three-month trial of special bicycle parking. Designed to provide a safe and secure spot for short-term parking, the goal is to reduce the number of wildgeparkeerde (wild parked) bicycles that you see everywhere, while still encouraging people to bike, rather than drive, in the city.

The five test sites are located at:

  • Twijnstraat by the Albert Heijn
  • St. Jacobsstraat by Lange Koestraat
  • Oudegracht and Stadhuisbrug by Selexyz
  • Neude on the corner of Lange Jansstraat
  • Neude on the corner of Potterstraat

Speaking of bicycles, I was approached by Expatica a while back to participate in a blog contest they’re holding to culminate at their annual I Am Not A Tourist Expat Fair. We were to send in one of our favourite/most popular blogs. I decided to send in one I did about how difficult it is to make a forceful statement at the end of an argument when you have to bike away, rather than drive off. You can read the post again — and vote for me — at the official blog contest web page.

Utrecht, Italian Style

Giro Di Sinkel
Friday night we took my parents to De Muntkelder, the fun pannenkoekenhuis (pancake restaurant) on the Oudegracht. It’s one of those things you just have to do with visitors. Afterward, we headed over to Graaf Floris for Irish coffee and appelbollen. As we got to Winkel van Sinkel I couldn’t help but notice a bit of decoration strung up. I also noticed a couple of bikes up on one of the railings. Oddly enough, I didn’t at first think of the bikes as decoration; I found myself assuming they’d been strung up there by some random person being silly. After all, it’s not the first time I’ve seen bikes in strange places here.
Parallel Parking
However, I soon realized that those bikes were supposed to be there, and the decoration was there to celebrate the Giro D’Italia bicycle race that is making an appearance here in the Netherlands this weekend. (The first stop is often in a country outside of Italy.) The riders are going from Amsterdam to Utrecht and should be going through the city center here later this afternoon. In fact, they should be passing the end of my street, so hopefully I’ll be able to get a glimpse of it all if the crowds aren’t too deep (and tall).

Meanwhile, the city is covered in pink, the color of the Giro D’Italia. There are Ronde Van Italië (Dutch way of saying Giro D’Italia) flags and banners up all over town, along with lots of independent displays, including some nice show window displays. Even the Domtoren has been lit pink in the evenings.
Giro Domtoren
Winkel Van Sinkel

In the News

Utrecht introduces cycle ambulance

Monday 28 July 2008

Utrecht is the first city in the Netherlands to get a cycle ambulance, reports Monday’s AD newspaper.

The city’s ambulance service RAVU tells the paper that it has been forced to introduce this unusual form of emergency medical aid because of the increasing difficulty of reaching city centre destinations with a traditional ambulance.

Only four ambulance staff are entitled to ride the bright yellow cycle ambulance which is fully equipped with medical apparatus but cannot transport patients.

The only thing the cycle ambulance lacks is a siren and flashing lights. ‘That would only cause more accidents. People become alarmed by a siren and if they can’t see where it’s coming from they’ll jump in front of the bike,’ says ambulance man Ruben Verlangen in the AD.

I should just let the story speak for itself, but I have to say I found the comment that the ambulances had a hard time reaching the city center destinations a bit strange. I guess they mean along the Oudegracht and other pedestrian areas. The police seem to get around just fine, at least on Lucasbolwerk. They seem to show up at least once each Friday as some idiot does something stupid. One week it was a fight among a group of idiots (from one of the other bars, I should point out, and it was never anything more than a spectator sport for our group, particularly due to the fact that the combatants didn’t seem very good at it all.) I’m not sure what the police showed up for last week; it was over and done quickly. A few weeks before, someone tried to steal a scooter, but was probably a bit drunk at the time, crashed it, and get held by Kris and a few other patrons from our bar. Heroes!

My point being that even with minor infractions that probably wouldn’t see the police show up that often in the US, they do show up here, and quickly, on both bike and in cars. I’m guessing the bike ambulance is to get quickly to people in pedestrian areas and treat them until a path can be cleared more easily for the proper ambulances. So, all in all, probably a decent idea.