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Plagued by an ever-shrinking space to park its hundreds of thousands of bicycles, Amsterdam on Wednesday opened the first of its largest-ever bicycle parking complexes, built underwater in an innovative engineering project.
The shelter has been built under the Open Haven Front, an access tributary to the city’s IJ river, and another will follow next to the IJ itself which will open in February.
They will have a combined capacity for 11,000 bikes in the cycling-obsessed Dutch capital.
“Together the shelters will be the largest in the city,” said the municipality of Amsterdam, with the Open Haven Front store able to take 7,000 bikes and the IJ side site around 4,000.
Construction began in 2019 and involved draining part of the Open Haven Front next to Amsterdam Central Station.
A time-lapse video posted by the municipality of Amsterdam showed how the water was pumped out, the structure built and the area eventually re-flooded.
“We have a lot of knowledge and expertise when it comes to water,” Dutch deputy infrastructure minister Vivianne Heijnen told AFP at the opening ceremony.
This store “makes the best possible use of the space you have in a small country”, he said.
Conveyor belts take riders nine meters (30 feet) below ground level, according to wUrck, the architectural firm that designed the ultramodern parking spaces that aim to evoke their oceanic surroundings.
“The rider steps into an imaginary oyster with a rough exterior of basalt and natural stone and a smooth, light interior,” the company said in a statement.
“Now you are guaranteed to be able to park your bike immediately when you arrive at Amsterdam station,” said the city’s transport alderman Melanie van der Horst.
There are an estimated 900,000 bikes in Amsterdam with around 625,000 trips made every day, according to the city’s Bike Monitor 2021 plan – and finding an appropriate parking space has long been a headache.