When a company in downtown Zurich wanted to redesign its outdated office building, the city had a requirement: It would have to include around 1,000 public parking spaces for bikes.
The building, owned by the insurance company AXA Winterthur, happens to be directly next to the city’s central train station, where commuters struggle to find open slots in the overcrowded bike racks in an adjacent square. Right now, the outdoor bike racks only accommodate 200 bicycles, and the city wants more people to start riding.
The new bike parking lot, in the basement of a sleek new Santiago Calatrava-designed mid-rise, is one of several that will be underground, attended, and adjacent to the city’s train stations; in total, the city plans to add about 10,000 new bike parking spaces in the next few years.
“We believe that these advantages will lead to more people using their bikes to get to the station when they go to work, just because it’s so convenient,” says Mike Sgier, deputy head of communication of Zurich’s public engineering department.
The city plans to keep partnering with private building owners to build needed infrastructure as it prepares for a 20% boost in population over the next 15 years.
“If we want to create enough infrastructure in good quality, we have to find cooperative solutions with private owners, because there isn’t simply enough space available to the city to build enough schools, parks, infrastructure for private or public mobility, etc.,” says Matthias Wyssmann, head of communication for the city’s department of building and planning. “This model has very much a future.”
The concept is even part of a new law now about to be implemented. “Whenever a piece of land gains in value by a simple administrative act of planning, the owner must pay a share of this added value to the community, who will use it for covering its infrastructural needs,” says Wyssmann. “What happens with AXA will be the general rule in the future.”
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