Just a small section of some of the bike parking near the station. They’ve added new indoor bicycle parking since I took these photos in January. That holds approximately 4500 bicycle parking spaces in a three-storey, automated lot under the station. They’re building more bicycle parking to hold roughly another 12,500. All of this is to help get rid of this “ocean of bikes“, though it sometimes seems that as soon as a new parking garage is built, it’s already full. Still, imagine if all of these represented cars. You can see a small overview of the area I photographed in this photo. The massive above-ground parking is partially seen on the right.
This week’s photo challenge theme is street life, which in Utrecht and most of the Netherlands, could easily be called bicycle life. It’s a rare moment that there isn’t a bicycle in sight, whether passing by or parked somewhere.
I decided to focus on one short stretch of street (approximately .2 miles), which is part of the main street that runs east/west through the old city center of Utrecht. Moving from west to east, you pass Janskerkhof, the square surrounding Janskerk (John’s Church), which is the big church-like building in the background. The street is closed to through traffic now, so the only real traffic comes from buses and bicycles. As you can see, there are specific lanes for the bicycles going each way, two lanes for the buses and occasional car, and sidewalks for pedestrians.There may be bicycles everywhere, but that doesn’t mean people don’t share a ride. Hopping on the back of the bike is done by everyone, both children and adults.
In the square in front of the church is the Broodje Mario shop stand. Mario’s is an institution in Utrecht, with the classic Broodje Mario made up of Italian meats and cheese and spicy vegetables, somewhat similar to a muffuletta in New Orleans. During the lunch hour, there’s usually a line of people and others milling about enjoying their sandwich. There’s no drive-through, but you can ride your bike practically right up to the shop.
Our final stop on this brief journey highlighting a small segment of street life in Utrecht takes us to Florin, a bar/restaurant popular with the university students. On Saturday afternoons, they host live music events, so it’s not unusually to see signs, banners, and people standing outside chatting. And of course plenty of bicycles parked outside.