(Try saying that title 10 times really fast)
Welcome back everyone, happy Sunday! If you haven’t already, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or matcha, or whatever get’s you jiving. Sit down and enjoy your morning read. Today we will continue in the theme of sustainability as I begin my Eco-Inspiration Bucket Destination series (you have to say at as fast as you can when you read that). Travel should inspire you. It should help you see things from a fresh perspective and this series is going to be dedicated to the wonderful places across the globe that are setting the standard for sustainable lifestyle, starting with Utrecht. After lockdown I hope to visit all of these places.. Eventually.. I need to make money first.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, hit the like button and subscribe to join the community. Lot’s of Love, Elle 🙂
Utrecht, the fourth largest city in the Netherlands with a population of 350,000. A city that is setting the pace for the rest of the world, redesigning it’s infrastructure to be the real definition of ‘a cycling city’.
I live in Oxford, United Kingdom. Somewhere that calls itself a ‘Cycling city’. However after discovering Utrecht, I think that Oxford city council and all those that hold power in our county should be ashamed. We should have the title wiped from our welcome signs until we step up and put meaning to the words.
Since the 1970’s Utrecht has been working hard to reinvent itself. Nature is definitely reaping the benefits. They have reduced road traffic significantly. In fact, there is a canal that they made into a highway in the 70’s, they are now restoring it back into a canal because of the lack of cars! How often has that happened in the last decade?
The reason I want to visit Utrecht and why I think we all should, is because I want to see these designs in person. It gives me hope that we really can have modern, thriving and environmentally friendly cities. It would be cool to visit and then use the ideas back home.
How can we learn from them?
Mass Bike parking
Throughout the centre of Utrecht sits practical and appropriate bike parking facilities. Below the central train station is enough bike parking for 12,000 cyclists, which is actually the largest bike parking in the world! Most importantly, it’s secure which means you don’t need to worry when you leave your bike for a day of exploring.
It is actually situated perfectly to leave the bike at the station then take a day trip to Amsterdam. Journey time is 30 minutes on the train, a commute that many Utrecht locals make.
Streets aren’t only safe for cyclists but they are designed for them. As they say, cars are guests on the street. In the middle of these roads they have ‘rumble strips’ which prevents cars from overtaking when it’s unsafe. These efforts have helped create a city where only around 15% of travel into the centre is by car, compared to 60% by bike. 15%! I feel like I need to go just to see what a successful, car-free city looks like.
Infrastructure and Architecture
I would go as far as to say that Utrecht is a world leader in architecture. One inspiring addition to their city was the Dafne Schippersbrug. A cycling bridge that was made over a roof of a school to combine two essential pieces of infrastructure. In the ages of urban sprawl and destruction of the greenbelts- the thinker behind this bridge is far ahead of the rest of us.
So to conclude..
We could all learn a lot from Utrecht. We should look at how they are actually boosting their economy by investing in green infrastructure. How they are making their city more beautiful and healthy by decreasing space for cars. They are thriving from this redesign and I think that’s awesome. Trust me when I say, Utrecht will be on everyone’s European bucket list soon, not too long after that, more cities will be trying to look like them.
Thank you for reading!
I look forward to visiting Utrecht and being able to write a travel guide for you all. Have you been to Utrecht? What were your thoughts on the city? Let me know in the comments below.
Don’t forget to like and subscribe for your Sunday morning read.
Have you read my last post on how we can travel whilst reducing our carbon footprints?