Bike to Train
We started the second week of the course by visiting a city in the heart of The Netherlands, Utrecht, which also happens to have a close relationship with the City of Portland; with plans to become Sister Cities. After stepping off the train, we met with two city transportation officials and Mark Wagenbuur, who I have referred to here before. The first thing we saw was a seemingly empty square in front of the train station; little did we know that the one of the world’s largest bicycle parking facilities sat just under it. I can honestly say I’ve never seen so many bikes in such a small area in my life.
Utrecht City Hall
We walked through town into the medieval city center, where we saw the iconic church tower, which might exceed the majesty of Delft’s. We then visited the City Hall to receive a Dutch lunch (sandwiches and buttermilk) and watch a presentation on some progressive transportation projects in the area.
More Bicycle Parking
After the presentation in City Hall, we were split off into groups to explore and document sustainable transportation initiatives in Utrecht. My group was assigned to study the smaller bicycle parking garages scattered throughout the city center. These bicycle parking garages were aimed at removing bicycle parking from the city streets (and replacing it within the garages) so as to make room and beautify the city center. From our look at a few of them, they seem very well used. This is not a problem we have a lot of places in America, but in Portland there are some areas where there is not enough bicycle parking to support demand. Many private entities (employers, universities, etc.) offer on-site bicycle parking, but there are very few publicly run bicycle parking garages. This may be something to consider in Portland as it strives to meet the goal of vastly increasing bicycle use.