In multiple areas in Europe we see that cycle infrastructure has strong connections with the rail network. In Belgium cycle highways are generally planned from train station to train station. The F3 between Leuven and Brussel is a good example. In the Dutch province of Gelderland, the Rijnwaalpad shows how a cycling highway both can be used for the long distance between city centres as well serve the last mile. The Rijnwaalpad is extended after passing Nijmegen central station to the university campus. This has resulted in an attractive and direct connection for travellers to cycle the last mile to campus.
Integrating cycle highways and trains
Also, Copenhagen shows the benefits of cycle highways that are strongly related to train stations. Indeed, 8 to 9% of bike trips on the cycle highway are in combination with public transport. Considering the entire modal split we see that in Denmark 23% of bike trips are in combination with public transport. In Denmark extraordinary facilities are provided to enable passengers to take a bike on board the train for free. Since these facilities were introduced in 2010, traveller numbers have increased tremendously, as illustrated in the graph. Simultaneously, the city of Copenhagen is increasing car parking prices. As a result, the resistance to driving your car to the city centre increases at its destination and thus the alternatives become more attractive.
The cycle highway between Frankfurt and Darmstadt (early 2019 still under construction) is planned parallel to a train track. There will also be a link realised from this cycle highway towards Frankfurt airport. The cycling distance will become twelve kilometres from Frankfurt centre to Frankfurt airport. Frankfurt Airport train station is equipped with proficient bike stands. Thus, a cycling alternative is offered for commuters to the airport. It is not yet determined that Gateway Station is facilitating a bike share system or bike parking. If it provides for a bike parking facility or shared mobility, then the cycle highway will be facilitating both complementary and competitive cycling trips. However, complementary trips will only occur if the alternative by car or taxi trips to the airport are discouraged.
In Arnhem, in the Netherlands, a pilot was rolled out to investigate the link between trains and cycling. Every 10 weeks a batch of 20 students or employees of Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences were able to opt for an e-bike or speed pedelec. For 10 weeks participants were assigned to a bike and were given a free bike park spot at Arnhem Central Station. Thus, they could combine a train or bus trip with a cycle ride for 5.6 kilometres to school. The aim was to explore how they would use the e-bike and if the transfer was functional. After a year of gathering results, results clearly showed that participants would rather cycle the entire trip than opt for a transfer at Arnhem central station. To learn more about the pilot see the report below.
The RS1, which is currently realised between Mullheim and Essen, is planned along the railway and mostly constructed on a former railway line. The RS1 is connected to the train stations in both cities where several transfers are offered: bike, metro, tram and bus. In Essen, the RS1 passes the university and thus relates to a magnet. Cycling from Essen central station to Mullheim central station along the RS1 takes almost 12 kilometres. This is a feasible distance for both regular cyclists as well as e-bikes. Therefore, the RS1 may complete a multimodal trip passing Essen station but also facilitates competing cycling trips on a longer distance between cities.
In Westervoort, situated east of Arnhem, the province of Gelderland carried out a pilot study to research and facilitate trips from Westervoort train station to the adjacent business site. On first sight, this appears to be a feasible opportunity to encourage multimodal trips as the last mile is three kilometres per bike. Here, the alternative remained too attractive during the pilot study and thus the chain train – bike could not compete with the car. In collaboration with the business site association, a survey was conducted to learn about the visitors of the business site. Most people working on the business site already owned an e-bike that enabled them to cycle for a longer distance bridging the distance from home directly to work. Next to this, people visiting the area also came for the nearby shops, such as IKEA and Makro, selling large goods. Transport per bike was therefore not a popular option. In conclusion, this transfer was not worked out well enough to be facilitating for a smooth chain, to compete with the alternative and there was not a big enough potential user group.
In short, cycle highways are usually planned directly to be competitive with train connections. However, it is valuable to extend the cycle highway beyond the train station to gain wider benefits.