Wednesday 17 December 2008

More cycle parking at Beilen Railway Station

Extra bike places

BEILEN - By order of ProRail, more covered cycle places have been built at the train station in Beilen. The parking now has room for 624 bike (previously 288). At the same time 64 bike lockers were placed as well as a space for 12 motor-scooters."

Sometimes little stories like this, buried on page 45 of our 56 page weekly free local paper, tell a big story. Beilen is a small town 20 km or so south of Assen with a population of under 10000 people. However, cycle parking at the station is being taken very seriously indeed.

Compare with the grandeur of this press release from First Great Western in the UK:

First Great Western and First Great Western Link’s Transport Integration Manager, Jonathan Radley commented: “As part of the UK’s largest public transport operator, First, we’re committed to integrated transport and helping our customers to make joined-up journeys. This extra cycle parking adds to existing provision at our stations, and we hope will make it easier for cyclists to find a space, particularly at busy times. We’re grateful for help from the Department for Transport and CTC in making this project a reality.”

Customers of First Great Western and First Great Western Link together make almost 60 million journeys a year with many travelling to or from the station by foot, on bikes, by bus, taxi or even by ferry.

Transport Minister Derek Twigg said: “The quality of cycle parking is a key factor in determining how confident cyclists feel about using their bike to get to the station. That’s why fairly simple, low-cost improvements like those at First Great Western and First Great Western Link can have an positive impact in encouraging people to leave their cars at home. We’re pleased to play our part in this scheme, alongside improvements to cycle routes led by local authorities across the country.”

The new parking takes the total number of bicycle spaces at Reading to 160, with 302 at Bristol Temple Meads, 38 at Plymouth, 20 at Southall, 16 at Thatcham (including 4 cycle lockers), 100 at Maidenhead, 4 at Charlbury, 8 at Mortimer (including 4 lockers), 534 (including 10 lockers) at Oxford and 6 at Bramley.

A big and impressive looking press release. But hang on... Just 200 new spaces spread between ten stations ? A total of 302 at Bristol ? That's less than half the total at Beilen, and Bristol has over 400000 residents. More than 40 times the population are fighting over less than half the amount of cycle parking at the railway station. Can it be right that availability of residents of Britain's "Cycling City" have 1/80th of the availability of cycle parking that is normal for a small Dutch village ?

Beilen is a typical Dutch town and has enough parking spaces for 1 in 15 of the population to leave their bikes at the station. Bristol, on the other hand, is the newly crowned "Cycling City" of the UK and has enough for 1 in 1350 people to do the same. Is that enough ? Is it enough to justify such a press release ?

Mind you, they're doing better than Plymouth. That city has a population of over 250000 people but just 38 spaces. Enough for 1 in 6500 of the population to cycle to the station...

Of these cities, Oxford, with it's 151000 population and 534 spaces is doing the best. They've enough spaces for one in every 282 residents. However, Oxford is historically one of the places with the most cycling in the UK. Even there the expectation is that cycling to the station will be over an order of magnitude less popular than in a small Dutch town.

It's not just the railway station of course. When I cycled through Beilen a few weeks ago I took a photo of bikes parked at a bus stop as well as a bit of video which you can see here.

It's sometimes difficult to explain to people from the UK or USA just how much cycling there is here, both in the cities and in small towns. Cycling is incredibly popular in this country. It's not just an incremental difference, but a staggering one. What's more, cyclists are very well looked after, and not only at railway stations. Come and see it for yourself.

3/1/2009 update

Judy went to Beilen and took some photos of the new cycle parking. You can see the new tulip style bike racks under cover in the photo to the right.

There are also secure lockers, for which there is a fee.

You can tell this is all very new because the sand still hasn't settled between the tiled surface.

Groningen's main railway station has nearly 10000 spaces and is added 500 cycle-parking spaces every year until 2015. Groningen has less than half the population of Bristol.

Utrecht makes another interesting comparison with Bristol. Utrecht has just 300000 people, but there are over 14000 cycle parking spaces at the station, and this is being expanded...

Naturally, even with high quality cycle parking as shown here it's also essential to protect your bicycle with a very secure lock.

This might be a good time to mention again that 40% of all train passengers in the Netherlands arrive at the station by bike, and that because they only use a bike for part of their journey none of them count towards the cycling statistics. Also see the other posts about integrated transport.


  1. To be fair to Bristol, Temple Meads is not the city's only station. Your point, nonetheless, still stands. We're a universe away from the Dutch or Danish cycling experience, sadly.

    In Bath, they're removing the on-platform racks in favour of slightly more street-level ones as part of the Bath transport interchange development (part of the new Southgate).

    The new provision will be less secure, and because they're ditching the ramp at the side of the station in favour of *one* lift, cyclists wanting to take their bikes on the train will have to wait for the lift or compete with foot passengers on the stairs. It's madness.

  2. Today I was wondering about things like these, and whether cycling conditions follow cyclists or the other way around. And I have to say that if there were no bike parking, I would not take my bike.
    (Funny to note is a campain by the National Railways, that features different ways of getting to the trainstation, i.e. by bus, bike, car, OV-bike etc. In the lists they advertise with, such as bike to the busstop, bus, train, walk to destination, there is always a bike. And a train, obviously :D)