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Bicycle parking at the Dutch train stations Introduction In the Netherlands the bicycle is not only a much used means of transport, but also a major link in the public transport chain. The Dutch railway companies have particularly large numbers of cyclists amongst their passengers. Approx. 30 percent of train passengers reach the station by bike. Approx. 10 percent leave stations by bike. And every year, these percentages increase. Studies have shown that more people will use the train provided there are more and better bicycle facilities. This is because passengers desire to travel comfortably from door to door. If they have to spend a long time looking for a safe place to park their bicycle, or have to walk a long distance to do so, they will opt for the car instead. The same applies if in rainy weather, bicycle saddles become wet, or if there is no dry location to put on waterproof clothing. In the Netherlands, in 1999, stations provided 143,000 free bicycle parking spaces , 112,000 spaces in guarded sheds and 16,000 bicycle safes. Given the considerable growth in the number of passengers envisioned for the next ten years, it was necessary to increase these numbers anyway, quite apart from the ambitions to increase the combined use of bike and train. At the same time, there was a drive to match the bicycle sheds more to the qualitative demands of the passengers. Who s responsible for bicycle facilities at stations? When Nederlandse Spoorwegen was denationalized in 1995, the government retained responsibility for bicycle facilities at stations. The Dutch government considers sufficient bicycle facilities an essential prerequisite for a smoothly functioning station, on a par with tracks and platforms. The government is therefore investing in bicycles, via an organization called ProRail. The core task of ProRail is to ensure that rail transport companies are able to make optimal use of the railway network and stations. The reason for this investment is that the Ministry of Transport aims to promote the combination of bike and train as an environment-friendly alternative to the car. But until 1998, the Ministry of Transport had reserved almost no money for the period through to 2010 (only 2,2 million euro a year). The Dutch Cyclists Union, together with the ANWB made a survey of the bicycle facilities at 124 stations, 30 % of the stations in the Netherlands. The local branches of the Cyclists Union visited the stations to count the number of bikes, the number of bicycle sheds in use, the number of bicycle sheds not used and the number of bicycle sheds with an anti-theft system (feature on a BPS that allows fastening of a bicycle to the BPS, if necessary by using a lock). These figures were used to calculate whether more and better facilities were needed. The results were clear: more and better facilities were indeed needed. With this information the Cyclists Union started a big lobby towards the minister of Transport and Parliament. The ministry of Transport eventually decided there was a shortfall of 200 million euro. Following the approval of a motion in Parliament, funds were allocated to carry out the bicycle shed program. ProRail was allowed to spend 280 million euro on bicycle sheds at railway stations, in order to improve all parking facilities. In 1999, ProRail submitted an action plan for the modernization of 380 locations. This action plan was supported by NS Passengers, the Union of Netherlands Municipalities, the Cyclists Union and the Passengers Association ROVER. As a result, simultaneously with an expansion program, all bicycle sheds would be upgraded according to the latest standards. In 2004 it became apparent that the money wasn t enough. The program was halted pending further deliberations. The Dutch Cyclists Union again started a lobby together with local authorities. This led to another 60 million euro being added to the program and a new selection. From then on only stations with a shortage of bicycle sheds would be improved. The main outlines for the new sheds Free facilities will be roofed at a height of at least 2.10 m, so that bicycles remain dry and owners do not bump their heads. Bicycle racks will be given a wider heart-to-heart distance, so that mountain bikes and racing bikes can also be easily parked. The racks must also comply with the requirements imposed by Fietsparkeur, the hallmark for theft protection. After all, it must be possible to safely attach the bicycle to the rack. Guarded sheds are often fitted with stacked racks. These racks, with bicycles on two levels, were installed to save space. However, only men use the upper level, and preferably not wearing their best clothing. In other words, the stacked rack is far from ideal. The new program will offer an alternative, so bicycles need not be lifted. This system will also be usable by women, in their best clothes. Here, too, the heart-to-heart distance will be increased from 33 to 37.5 cm. The last, but not least important standard relates to walking distances between the bike sheds and the station entrance. The current standard for free sheds is a maximum of 50 metres, and for guarded sheds 250 metres. Given the huge numbers of bicycle parked, it is not always feasible to comply with these standards there is simply not enough space. In such cases, the meaning of the standard is invoked to with placement as close as possible to the station entrance. Facilities at the different stations The term bicycle facilities refers to all resources involved in the parking and storage of bicycles. Experience has shown that demand for unguarded and guarded spaces at stations is split approximately fifty-fifty. The capacity of both parking types will be matched to this demand..Unguarded bicycle sheds consist of bicycle racks which will be fitted with standard coverings. At smaller stations, the secure spaces will consist of bicycle safes, which can hold a single bicycle. At larger stations, buildings are available where bicycles can be stored collectively: the guarded bicycle sheds. To ensure optimal use of the guarded bicycle shed, easy accessibility is crucial. The ministry has contracted the Railway company to ensure that access is possible from the first through to the last train. At smaller locations this can be achieved using an automatic access system. Operators will be present during peak hours, but passengers from the last train will in future still be able to retrieve their bicycle, thanks to the automatic access system. At the larger, guarded sheds, the operators and their employees will provide a personal service from the first through to the last train. They will also carry out bicycle repairs and sell bicycle products at their bicycle shop. Visit the new facilities Examples of guarded spaces: Deventer, Schiedam, Amsterdam Amstel, Beverwijk, Culemborg, Delft, Hoofddorp Examples of unguarded spaces: Den Haag Mariahoeve, Den Haag Laan van NOI, Geldermalsen, Gouda Goverwelle.
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