Enabling cycling is all about removing barriers. With the opening of a major cycle bridge last week, Utrecht did just that. You can now cycle from the city centre to a huge residential development (that already houses 82,000 people) via the shortest route possible and you cycle atop a school!
For over half a century, the west edge of Utrecht was clearly marked by the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal and the A2 Motorway to the west of it. In the 1990s, when Utrecht made the jump over the canal with the new housing area Leidsche Rijn (that will house 100,000 people when it is all finished) it was already clear that these barriers had to be removed somehow. Between 2007 and 2012 the A2 motorway was buried underground, that meant one barrier fewer. Discussions about a cycle bridge over the canal had already started in the late 1990s, but at the most logical location for a cycle bridge two schools were in the way. In November 2013, the city council finally decided that one of those schools should be relocated and the other would be integrated into a bridge. With that bridge now in use, all barriers were indeed removed.