Top image: Bike parking at Groningen's train station. Photo credit: Oldengarm.com.
Once known as the "fortress of the north" because it guarded the routes into Germany, Groningen, a Dutch college town, boasts the youngest population in the Netherlands. That might partially explain why 50% of the trips by its 195,000 residents are by bike. Half! And it has three times more bikes than cars.
But it's not just the youth of the town that have taken to two wheels; it's everyone and it's intentional. Way back in 1972, Groningen's new leftist city government recognized the compact nature of the town had special potential and, so, they mustered the political will to pass bike and pedestrian-friendly policies. Starting in 1977, cycling lanes were drawn, inner city streets were pedestrianized, and cars where limited to perimeter streets. All these many years later, the city center is wonderfully car-free. And the residents love it.
Check out this Streetfilms video below to learn about the 10,000 bike parking spaces at the train station, as well as the other elements the city has put into place to create a fast, energy efficient, and low-cost transportation system with bikes at the center. Other cities would do well to learn from Groningen.