Struggling with ever-shrinking space to park its hundreds of thousands of bicycles, Amsterdam on Wednesday opened the first of its largest-ever parking complexes, built underwater in a pioneering engineering project.
The shelter has been built below the Open Paradise Front, an accessible tributary to the city’s IJ River, and will be followed by another next to the IJ itself that will open in February.
They will have a combined capacity of 11,000 bikes in the cycling-mad Dutch capital.
“Together, the shelters will be the largest in the city,” Amsterdam’s municipality said, with the Open Haven Front storage holding 7,000 bikes and the IJ-side location around 4,000.
Construction began in 2019 and included draining part of the Open Front to Amsterdam Central Station.
A time-lapse video released by the municipality of Amsterdam showed how the water was pumped out, the building was built and the area was eventually flooded again.
“We have a lot of knowledge and expertise when it comes to water,” Dutch Deputy Infrastructure Minister Vivian Heijnen told AFP at the opening ceremony.
This storage “makes optimal use of the space you have in a small country,” she said.
Conveyor lanes carry cyclists nine meters (30 feet) below ground level, according to wUrck, the architecture firm that designed the ultramodern parking spaces that aim to evoke their oceanic surroundings.
“The cyclist enters an imaginary oyster with a rugged basalt and natural stone exterior and a smooth, lightweight interior,” the company said in a statement.
“Now you will be confident that you can park your bike immediately when you come to a station in Amsterdam,” said the city’s transport senior Melanie van der Horst.
There are an estimated 900,000 bikes in Amsterdam with around 625,000 trips per day, according to the city’s 2021 bike tracking plan – and finding adequate parking has long been a headache.