Utrecht Region is home to over 45,000 internationals. They all came to the heart of the Netherlands to live, work, or study. Moving to Utrecht, or the Netherlands for that matter sometimes comes with a bit of a culture shock. The fast and chaotic biking scene is a large element internationals need to adapt to, but when they do they can’t imagine living without it.
René Nauheimer - © Lotte Stierhout
German international René Nauheimer knows all about it! In early 2020, René and his business partner moved to the Netherlands and relocated their business to the Utrecht Region. Crisp Studio is based in the Creative Valley next to Utrecht Central Station. It supports organizations and companies on their journey to transform by running innovation and design workshops called Sprints. René cycles to his office every day. “I always cycled as a hobby or weekend activity. When I moved to the Netherlands it became a daily routine. It is not only fast and flexible but also a healthy activity in the fresh air. To me, cycling is a form of moving meditation.” René believes the big difference with his home country is that cities in Germany are mainly made for cars. “Bicycle paths are either painted on the streets which make the commute dangerous and stressed, or they are located far away in beautiful surroundings but then they are not very efficient for commuting. That's why, for most people in Germany, cycling is a leisure activity. Here in Utrecht cycling is an efficient means of transport in the urban area; bicycle paths are embedded in the transport infrastructure. They are well maintained, often separated from the cars and road signs are easy to understand. “I always smile when I see signs stating cars are ‘guests’ in a particular street or when it's ‘rush hour’ on the bicycle paths. The whole area is basically one uninterrupted bicycle highway. Which makes both commuting and free riding a blessing.”
The world’s largest bicycle parking
Since 2019, Utrecht is the proud owner of the largest bicycle parking in the world. 12,500 bicycles can be stored, spread over three floors. A two-direction cycle path is crossing the parking, which is located underneath Utrecht Central Station. Electronic signs highlight the remaining available spaces where you can park 24 hours a day. René uses the bicycle parking quite often, as it is located underneath his office. “The biggest advantage for me is convenience. It's safe, usually easy to find a spot and I can hop on the train or get to work in a matter of minutes. There are many other bicycle parking areas in the city centre as well, so there is always a safe place to park your bike. And the best thing: the first 24 hours are always free!”