The combination of bicycle and train, two of the most environmentally friendly modes of transport, seems ideal. This is probably the fastest way to achieve zero emissions. However, when we want to transport bikes during peak hours, conflicts arise and emotions rise…

An interesting debate unfolded around the bicycle issue on the railway, and finding a compromise solution is not so easy. Railway Supply magazine writes about this with reference to Rynek Kolejowy.

bikes in train
Picture: Szymon Nitka, Znajkraj

On the railway, for technical reasons, the bicycle must be transported inside the passenger compartment, so it takes up valuable space for passengers. One bike on board takes up as much space as two people in the seats or three or four standing passengers. The carrier loses income, passengers lose comfort.

It was proposed, for example, to limit the transport of bicycles during peak hours, or to significantly increase the price of a bicycle ticket. However, as noted by the Association for the Economics of Transportation, every anti-cycling action can indirectly be pro-car, that is, force the population to switch back to cars. So do the MEPs, who have made it mandatory to install bike racks on trains. In their opinion, a strong argument in favor of the maximum offer of bicycle transport on trains is to ensure that people always carry their bicycle on public transport anywhere and at any time. This will be a great incentive to give up car ownership.

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An interesting calculation was made in PKP Intercity. If the SA106, which can accommodate 60 passengers and 3 bicycles, carries 21 passengers and 21 bicycles, 80-100 liters of fuel will be burned per 100 kilometers. Using six cars with bike racks for this trip will result in much lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. A group of cyclists is a very difficult client for the railways and this is not a “discrepancy”, but a reality.

A versatile wagon design is also being discussed, in which the seats and bike carriers can be interchanged: installing more bike seats in the summer and swapping them for seats in the fall and winter. Since passenger space can be converted into cargo space, train space can be managed more flexibly.

However, there are those who believe that transporting a bicycle on a train should be a last resort, that an alternative model in which people cycle to and from a station should be as simple as possible. This requires a focus on bike rental, secure parking and integration with public transport.

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