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Underwater bike shelters in Amsterdam

(Amsterdam) Amsterdam on Wednesday opened its first bicycle shelter dug underwater, near Central Station, in order to de-clog traditional surface-mounted shelters.

“In the Netherlands, we have a lot of knowledge and experience when it comes to water,” said the Dutch Minister of State for Infrastructure, Vivian Heijnen, even allowing underwater construction.

“It makes the best use of the space you have in a small country,” she told AFP during the opening of the first shelter on Wednesday.

With nearly 11,000 spaces, the two shelters together will represent “the largest bike shelter in the city,” according to the municipality, which will also enable the removal of often overloaded bike racks from the sidewalks.

“We want to make the station accessible and public spaces accessible and attractive,” the municipality said in a statement.

Amsterdam residents will have access from Thursday to the first underwater shelter near the main entrance to the station, which offers 6,300 places and 700 self-service bicycles.

The conveyor belts will take users nine meters below ground level, explains the architectural office Wurck, responsible for the project.

Wurck describes the interior of the refuge as “a soft, light world, with a molded plaster floor and a seamless white ceiling,” a contrast that reminds us, according to The Office, of an oyster.

The second shelter, under the IJ and whose design reflects its curves, will be available from February 14 and will house 4,000 pitches.

“Now you know that when you get to Central Station, you can park your bike right away,” Melanie van der Horst, deputy mayor in charge of transport, told AFP.

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30% of Dutch railway passengers come to the station by bike, says Wouter Koulmes, director of the public organisation.