A blog by Silka Kennedy-Todd, Active Travel Lead
20 December 2022
Rail and cycling should be the perfect combination, one that is great for our physical health and mental wellbeing, as well as for the environment.
Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) published a report on our call for evidence for the long term strategy for rail in the summer. Respondents highlighted the role rail can play in driving uptake of non-car modes, and how improving integration with walking and cycling can support decarbonisation of the wider transport network, as well as individual health benefits.
Suggestions for the ‘how’ included secure, quality cycle storage at stations and, outside of peak hours, on trains; cycle/e-cycle hire at stations and supporting local authorities on their ambitions for active travel.
I don’t have a car, cycle a lot in London and use rail quite often for leisure journeys, as well as occasionally for work. In theory, I should be the perfect candidate for using cycle-rail (or cycle-rail-cycle) to make my door-to-door journeys. However, unless the cycle parking is secure, I rarely leave my bicycle at the station, and it’s been years since I’ve taken it on a train with me. My hunch is that I’m not the only one, and that’s why I’m writing this blog.
I represent GBRTT on the Cycle Rail Working Group, which has done sterling work in recent years, working across the rail industry, to provide additional cycle parking at train stations.
Despite some good practice examples, the industry knows that facilities at stations and on trains can fall short of what is needed to support travel by bike. As local, regional and national transport authorities are increasingly focused on increasing active travel, and constraining car trips, there’s a great opportunity for the railway to grow passenger numbers and revenue. But that means we need to play our part, as an industry, in encouraging more people to cycle to train stations.
The Cycle Rail Working Group has commissioned SYSTRA, a transport consultancy, to update guidance for the rail industry on a range of areas that support people who want to ride bikes, as well as the train, for their A to B journeys.
It will provide best practice examples on things like cycle parking, hiring and sharing at stations, as well as looking at signage and routes. However, to understand what’s important to customers, it also needs to be informed by the people who either cycle to stations already or who, in future, would like to.
If you cycle to train stations now, or would like to, but don’t, please take five minutes out of your day to respond to SYSTRA’s online survey, which closes on 9 January.
Change will take time – most areas highlighted in the survey won’t be an easy fix or solved by new guidance. But it is a sign that the rail industry is looking seriously at improving the opportunities to travel by cycle and train. Your views, and those of any current or budding cyclists you know, will help inform SYSTRA’s work.