The bicycle and the train are a strong combination due to the good parking facilities at train stations and the range of public transport bicycles. But for the recreational cyclist there are many obstacles. There are few bicycle spaces available on the train and clear information about this is lacking. The shortage of bicycle places increases especially on beautiful sunny days in spring or summer. The Fietsersbond investigated possible solutions and asked NS to create more bicycle spaces by means of bicycle hooks and to improve the information facilities.
According to the study Cycling Holidays and Cycling Treks 2021 (Kien Research), the Netherlands has 11,1 million recreational cyclists and 3 million Dutch people went on a cycling holiday in 2021. Most cyclists start from home, but sometimes the start and end point of the route differs. “There is a large group of cyclists who like to take their own bicycle to beautiful places elsewhere in the Netherlands or abroad. But if you want to go out by bike and cover part of it by train, that is often not possible. You shouldn't need a car for a sustainable cycling holiday,” says Wim Bot of the Fietsersbond. There are currently too few bicycle spaces available on trains to popular recreational destinations, such as the Wadden Islands or Limburg.
Taking the bicycle on the train also often causes stress. You don't know where the train stops where you have to take your bike. In a short period of time you have to recognize the small bicycle logo and sprint towards it. In addition, fellow travelers have little understanding for cyclists, especially when the train is full.
Hooks in the train as a solution
By replacing fixed seats with folding seats with hooks above, more bicycle spaces are created in the train without giving up seats. There are many good examples of this in foreign trains. The Fietsersbond investigated how many bicycle spaces there are per train type and how many bicycle spaces this could be if the bicycles could be hung on hooks. For example, it is often possible to add two or four extra bicycle places per train type.
Information about bicycle places
For cyclists waiting on the platform, it is nice to know where the entrance for the bicycles is for an arriving train. It saves a lot of stress if it is clearly indicated on platforms, in the app and on the trains themselves where the trains stop where you can take your bicycle. Better designation of the bicycle places can also provide more understanding for non-cyclists and ensure a better entry and exit process. A good example of clear decals is the train below in Germany.
The Fietsersbond has submitted the report to NS for publication. Unfortunately, NS sees nothing in the suggestion to place hooks. They think that people find it too heavy to hang their bicycle on a hook. Wim Bot: “We are very sorry that NS does not want to investigate this assumption further. Bicycle hooks are a godsend for cyclists. And there are plenty of good examples in trains abroad.” At the end of 2023, NS expects to be able to carry out a pilot on the platform signs with boarding information for cyclists in NS trains, according to the Fietsersbond.