At Velo-city Global 2012, Aske Wieth-Knudsen, head of the executive office at DSB S-train in Copenhagen, reported that actively promoting and including bicycles helped attract more riders to the regional train system in Copenhagen. Faced with 13 years of stagnant revenues and dropping government subsidies, the transit company shifted their strategic focus from station-to-station travel to considering their customers’ door-to-door trip. Partly through offering better bike parking at stations, connecting stations to the Cycle Super Highways and allowing riders to bring bicycles on trains at all times, the company’s annual revenue grew by 5.8 percent. Improving station and train access for bicycles wasn’t cheap, but the passenger revenue growth provides a strong business case for doing so.
The popularity of the DSB S-Train’s new bicycle accommodations meant the transit company needed to consider ways to handle the continued growth. They worked with the city to encourage riders to use separate bikes at each end of their train trips by improving bike parking and placing bike shares in accessible spaces at transit stations.
Bike Share Systems Extend the Reach of Public Transit
In Canada’s second-largest city, Montreal, QC, the bike share system, known as BIXI, has demonstrated that cycling is an efficient, relatively low-cost and sustainable way of expanding the reach of public transit. “BIXI is not a bicycle; it is an application of new technology to a mobility system,” said Michel Labrecque, chair of STM. His transportation cocktail now includes improving integration between riders of the public transit system with taxis, car sharing and especially with BIXI. Through station improvements, universal passes and discounts for members and transit pass holders, the result has been an increase in transit users modifying their trips to include BIXI as part of their regular route planning.
Adding bike share stations in cities around the world has meant replacing some parking for cars. Park and ride facilities, where drivers come in to park at transit hubs, are costly. Beyond the land value taken up, the cost of constructing a surface parking stall can be more than $10,000, and structured and underground parking often costs more than double that. Bicycle parking and rental stations at hubs are efficient ways of using space and offer an effective connection to destinations when appropriate cycling infrastructure exists.
Small investments and policy changes can go a long way to support and celebrate urban cycling. More open helmet laws, bike racks on cabs, and bike-minded infrastructure like footrests and handrails at stoplights are all part of making everyday people like Megan feel comfortable and making navigating the city on a bicycle feel normal.
Røhl says that in Copenhagen they grouped policy changes into three classes: “sticks, carrots and tambourines.” With the sticks they restricted personal vehicle use through strategies like taxation, parking restrictions, and walking- and cycling-only streets. Carrots made cycling easier with protected infrastructure, clearly marked routes, easily accessible bike parking facilities and access to public bike share. The third element, tambourines, were ways of celebrating bike culture and “thanking citizens for riding their bikes” with festivals, public art, facilities for specialized cargo bikes, and simple actions like angling garbage bins to face cycle traffic. That celebration is about cycling being special and important, while at the same time promoting it as ordinary and everyday.