Cycling by train in the UK

In the UK, the number of people combining bike and train journeys grew explosively from 19.5 million in 2007 to 28 million in 2009. An explosive increase.

Why? Any orthodox economist will tell you that people make decisions based on incentives. Read the above article and you see two positive incentives at work:

1) Train companies have fixed a policy of carrying folding bikes to be carried for free. Hence the rapid rise in the number of folding bikes being used by commuters. And

Cycling by train in the British Midlands

2) Stations are increasing their bicycle parking spaces. “There are now around 25,000 cycle spaces in the UK, with thousands more planned.” Hence the number of people parking at stations is also increasing.

(Of course, rising petrol prices are another incentive to bike.)

Both of these actions send out signals that bicycles are welcome at train stations (although in part restricted to folding bikes on the trains themselves). Although this isn’t going to cause a mad rush of people biking to the station, it will cause some to think. And some to bike. And as more people bike, it becomes more acceptable. And, like a slow-rolling snowball, grows.


4 thoughts on “Cycling by train in the UK

  1. When at home in the UK I regularly took my bike on trains. My full sized bike was always carried free in the cycle compartment. My experience may not be representative as the rail network is strangely divided up into separate companies, my routes were mainly between Bristol and London or Plymouth.

    • That’s been my (irregular) experience of taking full-sized bikes on trains back home too. Never a problem in Birmingham New Street, Leicester, or York. Sometimes a bit cramped, but the other passengers have always been very tolerant.

      As you’re in Seoul too, you might have noticed the city government’s trying to make the subways more bike-friendly with ramps down steps and ‘bike carriages’.

  2. There’s been a lot of investment in new train stock over the past few years, sadly most of the new trains have little or no cycle storage. Long gone are the days of the parcel bays you used to get on trains where you used to be able to get copious amounts of bikes… Still, the folding bikes are proving ever popular, especially the Brompton, for this very reason and of course they also negate the nescesity to leave your bike outside in the streets.

    Still, it would be nice to have a Dutch approach to cyclists at train stations; parking in a convenient place (not tucked in a dark corner by platform 13 and 3/4s) and space on trains for bikes too *sigh* Gotta keep the dream alive!

    • Absolutely. Simply setting up (safe) cycle parking near the entrance to stations (rather than your platform 13 and 3/4) would send a strong visual message in support of bicycle-train mixed modes.

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