One of the smaller cities that ranked in The Copenhagenize Index, Utrecht nonetheless continues to impress and sliding past Amsterdam into second place is the clearest indication that the city is keen to progress.
It’s no secret that Dutch cities have a tendency to stick to maintaining their levels of cycling and not doing much to improve. Utrecht is intent on bucking that trend.
What we see is Utrecht making some serious investment in bicycle urbanism. The uniquely designed Dafne Schippersbrug bridge is a fine example. The city’s ongoing plans to build 33,000 parking spots for bikes at the Central Station by 2020 is another. The current 12,000 spots wasn’t enough, apparently.
“Bicycle streets” are standard in many Dutch cities, but Utrecht boasts the longest in the country - 6 km - and has plans for more. They have created a pop-up parking concept for bikes and they have installed the Flo - a speed detection system coupled with digital kiosks that read each cyclist’s speed and help them speed up or slow down in order to catch the next light. It is a more complicated system than the simpler ones in place in Copenhagen, but we warmly embrace the innovation.
Regarding urbanism in general, the city continues to reject last century planning by digging up the Stadsbuitengracht and returning the ancient waterway to its rightful place by 2019.
If you live in the city, you figure out how to get around pretty quick. The infrastructure isn’t, however, intuitive for visitors. Which is a great indicator for the design of the infrastructure. Improving the uniformity would be a massive upgrade for the city. We welcome innovation, but money could be wiser spent on simpler solutions.