It’s universally agreed that we need to significantly cut emissions from transportation in the coming years. Shifting to EVs is often seen as a major step in that direction. But strengthening public transport and expanding bike traffic may be even more significant. According to a University of Oxford research, choosing a bike instead of a car for just one trip a day could reduce an average person’s carbon emissions from transport by 67%. In Germany, experts estimate that around 30% of car trips could be shifted to cycling. And this does not even refer to short trips inside cities or neighborhoods, which can be easily done by bikes.
Combining cycling and train travel makes it possible to cover long distances and thus offers great potential for sustainable commuting. And bike parking facilities are an important element here – let’s take a closer look on why.
How does a good bike infrastructure look like?
A convenient and safe bicycle infrastructure encourages people to get on their bikes. In 2020, the first year of Corona, cycling increased up to 48% more in cities that added pop-up bike lanes, compared to those that did not. A good network, with direct and continuous cycling routes, enables cyclists to get around quickly and comfortably.
The great impact a good infrastructure has on the choice of the transport mode, can be seen in the Netherlands. Cycling has been strongly promoted there for decades. The Dutch have built a vast network of cycling paths and cycle expressways. These are wide, clearly marked and often completely segregated from motorized traffic. It pays off: Almost a quarter of the Dutch population cycles every day.
Important element: Bike parking
Another factor of the Dutch strategy: Modern bike parking facilities. When new residential areas are built, sufficient bicycle storage is always part of the development. Train stations offer large bike parking garages– the largest in the world is situated in Utrecht with 12,500 parking spaces. Around half of all rail passengers in the Netherlands use their bicycle on their way to and from the station.
Annette Kindl, an expert on bicycle traffic at PTV Group’s research team, explains: “Bicycle plus train becomes an attractive model if there is a good cycle link to and from the station. The second important aspect is the parking situation. Bicycle parking facilities at the station must be easily accessible, safe and protected from weather.”
People who ride their bicycles every day usually don’t want to lock their bikes to some streetlight. But neither do they want to have to walk from a bicycle parking in a far corner of the station to the platform. Secure and easily accessible facilities are a prerequisite for the bicycle to become an everyday mean of transport.
Annette Kindl examined the state of bicycle parking facilities at German train stations in a study commissioned by the German government in 2019: “The research resulted in an estimated need for 1.5 million bicycle parking spaces at stations by 2030, one million of them at the 1,000 highest-volume stations.”
Integrating bike parking into the cycling network
As an outcome of the study, a new information center “Bicycle Parking at Train Stations” has now been established in Germany: It’s intended to support cities and municipalities in creating an attractive cycling infrastructure with modern bike parking facilities.
This is where PTV Group’s traffic planning expertise contributes. Annette Kindl says: “In this project, we analyze the key aspects of integrating the station and bicycle parking facility into local and regional cycling network. We then use this to create a checklist of accompanying traffic measures.”
This includes, for example, making bike parking facilities part of the municipal mobility strategy, and integrating them into digital offerings, such as multimodal apps
Annette Kindl concludes: “If the right framework is set, cycling and train travel can form a kind of distinct transport mode and thus strongly contribute to an eco-friendly change in mobility.”