10 future challenges for Fiets+OV
In the autumn of 2020, TRACK-landscapes was asked by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to carry out an in-depth study of the combination 'Bicycle and public transport', as part of the Future Picture OV2040. If the future ambition for mobility consists of speed, sustainability, flexibility, accessibility, quality of life and health, then the combination Fiets+OV is simply unbeatable. We are convinced, also from our own experience, that Fiets+OV is the means with which relatively manageable investments can have the greatest impact on our freedom of movement.
And yet inventories by the core teams of chains and nodes soon revealed that many aspects are still not in order with regard to 'the bicycle', as the pre- and/or post-transportation of public transport. TRACK landscapes were asked to make an overview of the current position of the bicycle at public transport nodes, and to explain the most important tasks for the future. We did this with an inquiring and designing eye. Ten assignments have been formulated on the basis of literature studies (download the accompanying 'Fiets+OV library'), interviews, own data analyzes and own design studies. This article is a brief summary thereof.
The impact of the corona crisis on our long-term travel behavior cannot yet be fully assessed. But, pre-corona bicycle assignments do not have to be permanently parked now, the bicycle can also be the way to attract travelers to public transport again. It also offers new opportunities.
1. The demand for Fiets+OV is strongly determined by the supply (of parking facilities and shared bicycles). So keep in mind the potential/latent demand.
There are many thematic Bicycle+OV tasks that can be identified, but they are all covered by a single point of departure: what is the (political) ambition level? Significant steps have been taken for Fiets+OV, but we are still keeping up with demand and forecasts on various themes. Or actually; behind it. If we really believe in the enormous potential of Fiets+OV, then we have to create the supply (for example bicycle sheds) on the basis of the 'latent' demand, the potential. Because where more bicycle (parking) capacity is created, the demand for Fiets+OV grows, and the parking facilities are often full again. The same applies to public transport bicycles. This requires a nationally directed approach and political ambition. Before the corona crisis, approximately 50% of Dutch stations had a parking shortage. It would take (estimated) 450 million to solve this nationwide. How large could the share of 'Bicycle+OV' in Dutch mobility be if we set ourselves the standard that every bicycle shed in the Netherlands always has more than sufficient capacity? If daily use of public transport bicycles were more affordable? The fact is: we don't know, because little is known about 'latent demand'. The graph below shows the estimated shortages of bicycle parking at stations in 2040, based on the (2019) growth forecasts for public transport.
2. Use the double potential of shared bicycles.
The solution for more OV+bicycle movements is not just 'more' (bicycle sheds). Shared bicycles have the potential to reduce the number of 'second bicycles' (the bicycle between the station and work, the 'activity side'), which, relatively speaking, causes considerably more parking pressure (they are on average approximately 4 times longer in the parking facility). The shared bicycle can also provide more (Bicycle +) public transport passengers; on the activity side, the bicycle is used much less often as post-transport (~15%, on the home side as pre-transport this is ~50%), it is on that activity side that travelers would like to use a bicycle more often. The corona crisis is interesting in that regard; a shared bicycle (for example an OV-fiets) is quite unaffordable if you need it 4 to 5 days a week (in the case of an OV-fiets easily 800 euros per year). With 2 to 3 office days a week, that consideration can change. However, then we must structurally solve the public transport bicycle shortages and offer, for example, more affordable forms of bicycle sharing that also respond to the travel needs after the current crisis.
3. Connect bicycle routes and types of parking facilities to the needs and direction of the 'public transport + cyclist'.
Various studies show a simple principle of preference for cyclists (to/from public transport): We prefer to park our bicycle on the side where we already come from, or have to go. At the various case study stations, the offer appears to be one-sided in that regard. Parking facilities are often only located on one side of the station, and then also the side from which most cyclists do not come. The cyclist has to travel unnecessarily long routes, and the flows of cyclists have an unnecessarily large impact on the station environment. This appears to be a problem at Den Bosch, Amersfoort Schothorst, Culemborg, Leiden Central and Maastricht stations, for example. Take Amersfoort Schothorst for example; most cyclists come from the west side, but the parking facilities are located on the east side and will be further expanded there in future plans. It creates extra large bicycle flows in the station tunnel, which is already too tight. And it is precisely on the west side that there are interesting potentials for integrating bicycle sheds into already existing differences in height.
4. Help design bicycle routes and bicycle parking as a (co-)investment in an area, not just as an investment in 'transport'.
Cyclists make a lively environment, with eyes on the street, early and late. The question that should always be central to bicycle(+OV) investments is how we ensure that an investment in a bicycle route or bicycle shed is also an investment in the quality of an area. In Den Bosch, for example, the west side lacks appearance and (accommodation) quality. To solve parking shortages on the west side (because again, that's where many cyclists come from, but there are few parking spaces) the (expensive) option of a new 'bicycle cellar' is quickly suggested. With some sketch designs we showed that there are also possibilities to integrate new bicycle sheds in developments that give the area more new functions and face. For example, the parking facility can be integrated with a new inter-district bicycle connection, at new residential locations in the railway zone, or in a new station building at ground level, directly adjacent to the passerelle.
5. Design based on the bicycle movement and the human dimension, starting with the quality of the environment and accommodation.
Large public transport connections often create places where there is no human touch. On the Schipholweg in Haarlem, the double bus lanes are located in the middle of 6 car lanes. There, opportunities are being sought for a new, extensive public transport interchange. A number of preferred locations have been outlined on the basis of many public transport traffic engineering principles. But what if we start with the cycling principles? After all, it is estimated that half of bus passengers will come to the stops by bicycle. Data from the bicycle counting week (2017) shows that cyclists naturally come together at the bottom of the intersection between Schipholweg and Spaarne. Here, a public transport node can be integrated into a (sports) park environment, combined with new housing construction and new cycle routes through more accessible (sports) parks. You almost start to hope that your bus is delayed.
6. The public transport + cyclist is flexible and benefits from a choice of public transport nodes; At many suburban stations there are opportunities to improve (parking) facilities.
The bicycle turns public transport into a flexible traffic system, which in itself is not very flexible. The cyclist can always go in all directions and often has a choice of different public transport nodes. There is still much to be gained in this regard. For example, the Lynxx application (link) shows that there are many unknown bicycle-train combinations that are faster than the expected fastest combination. Much can be gained from more targeted bicycle information.
Ultimately, the cyclist makes a personal sum of all kinds of travel aspects (which are known to him) in order to determine what the optimal entry/exit station is. Preventing a transfer appears to be very important, many cyclists like to cycle to the central station. But if a local train station / suburban station is approximately 10 minutes / 3 kilometers closer to home, this is also seriously considered. The quality and security of the storage product are also important in the choice. And coincidence or not; the suburban stations are often about 3 kilometers from the main stations. That choice is therefore an issue for many cyclists. And it is precisely at many suburban stations that there are opportunities to improve bicycle sheds, bicycle facilities and travel products. This not only benefits cyclists, it also prevents all bicycle traffic from going through a central location. Where it is often already (too) busy, and space for expansion (of bicycle sheds, for example) is often more complicated. These thoughts fit in with the more polycentric city model that more and more cities are aiming for.
7 . The OV+cyclist sees his journey as a whole from door to door. The quality of (regional) cycling routes is very decisive for our choice of transport. Improvements are valuable in themselves for the (cycling) city, but can also give public transport a boost.
Various studies show that the quality of bicycle routes to stations has a significant impact on the extent to which people cycle to stations, or use public transport at all. It is even stated that time loss by cyclists on the route to the station determines (slightly) more heavily whether they opt for bicycle + public transport than the same amount of time lost when parking bicycles and walking from the parking facility to the platform. With data from the bicycle count week, we showed which routes were frequently used by cyclists with the station area as their destination. Many improvements are still possible on these routes, in terms of directness, speed, safety and comfort.
8. Research and support the needs of the e-biker (eg for guarded parking facilities).
While doing this research, we were overtaken by… e-bikers. In the corona year 2020, record sales of e-bikes were achieved. The e-bike is increasingly becoming the standard bicycle. Previous research into the influence of the e-bike on public transport shows that after purchasing an e-bike, people travel less often by train and/or Bus Tram Metro. It is by no means evident that the rise of the e-bike will lead to more public transport passengers (which is often suggested). This does not mean that (besides that train/BTM passengers drop out) a new potential group of travelers can also be tapped, now that the e-bike makes a greater cycling range possible. For example, people who live 5-10 km from a station and currently go to work by car. This potential is certainly there in rural areas, where more use is made of e-bikes. At the moment, however, many storage locations are not yet equipped for (expensive) e-bikes. Certainly not at the smaller, more rural stations. If we want the e-bike to generate a new group of users for public transport, we will have to set up the facilities accordingly. The influence of e-bikes on bus use can also be monitored; they often compete at similar distance range. This raises the question whether, for example, fast bicycle routes should only be seen as an addition or also as a partial replacement on, for example, bus lines?
9. Use the potential of (e-) bicycles, shared (e-) bicycles and bicycle facilities at junctions in rural areas.
The availability of shared bicycles and good bicycle facilities can have a major impact, especially in rural areas. In the urban area there are almost always alternative travel options to get to the destination. The flexibility and range that shared (e-)bikes can offer make a big difference in the accessibility of destinations, especially in more rural areas. It is not only the much-mentioned last mile, but with a part e-bike even the last 10k. With a fairly simple national analysis, we come to the conclusion that approximately 100 bus stops or train/bus stations should be provided with shared bicycles to make all Dutch residential areas and nature reserves accessible to all Dutch people (by public transport). These are the blue circles, these locations are mainly in rural areas. For example, by adding shared bicycles at bus station Druten (one of the case studies of the chains and nodes core teams), villages such as Molenhoek or Horssen would be accessible to the 50% of Dutch people who do not have a driver's license (or access to a car).
10. The bike profit is big in the small. Inventory and invest in comfort small facilities.
Cycling is about experience: comfort, convenience, space, speed, safety, beauty and more. In the turmoil of multimillion-dollar investments in gigantic parking capacity shortages, bicycle cellars and bicycle highways, we quickly forget that cyclists mainly benefit from a pleasant experience and quality. And that is often also in the small. There are so many relatively simple ways to make that experience more pleasant, without having to invest millions right away. Malmö currently has perhaps the best example of a bicycle shed where the comfort and experience of the cyclist has been taken completely seriously. Parking facilities come in all shapes and sizes for every imaginable model of bicycle, there are lockers, toilets, showers (!), a waiting area with water tap, a good bicycle pump, a bicycle shop (with bicycle lights, for example) that is also used as an information point. , departure information and ticket machines. And no, this is not a first-class facility that you have to pay extra for. In the Netherlands, we could use pilot parking facilities to investigate how comfort and facilities can be raised to a new level. This creates guidelines for future parking facilities.
The corona crisis may provide a temporary sur-place in the use of bicycle + public transport, but it is now crucial to think about how we want to get from A to B (and back to A) in the future. Although the Netherlands is a premium cycling country, a lot is still possible in the combination of Fiets&OV. Each stated assignment also ends with the conclusion that more knowledge through research can still be of great value. Especially in the present time.