Category Archives: Intermodality

Fietsenstalling Stationsplein

Utrecht, The Netherlands, is the home of the biggest subterranean bike parking in the world. This infrastructure is called Fietsenstalling Stationsplein and up to 12,500 bicycles can be parked here. It shows three levels, access ramps and direct connection to the Utrech train station. This 7,100 squared meters building costed 50 million Euros and received the Concrete Award and one the Architizer A+ Award in 2018.

Before building the Fietwenstalling Stationsplein, the former Centraal train station was an old, gray square next to Hoog Catharijne (a shopping center) and a big exhibition center as a legacy of the widely used urban style in Europe in the XX century. Fortunately, this urban style is being substituted. No only did the square name changed from Stationstraat to Stationsallee, but also it became in a spacious, ventilated new place for people with gardens and a fountain.

The Fietsenstalling Stationsplein counts with three levels, a workshop and round-the-clock vigilance. Moreover, it 1,000 public bikes are placed there so that if a visitor arrives in Utrecht by train, he or she can use one of such bicycles and move cheaply without polluting the city. Indeed, every level is dedicated to specific uses. Thus, public bikes are separated if you are a subscriber, long distance or sporadic user. The parking can be toured without stopping your bicycle thanks to ramps and screens at the end of every row in order for bikers to see if that row has empty parking spaces. A large canopy and openings in the exterior walls allow the parking to receive a lot of natural light.

This is a perfect example of bike+train intermodal mobility which is really inclusive since different actors from local authorities and pedestrians to transport company workers and, of course, riders were consulted in the process of designing the Fietsenstalling Stationplein.

Traveling with your bike and…

Intermodality is a concept in which a combination of two or more ways of transport are used to go from point A to B. When one of the ways of transport is a bicycle it is important to be aware of how the other way of transport works, specific legislation and so on.

Today, I offer some information if you want to use your bike and:

– Plane: All the plane companies allow you to bring your bike, but it greatly depends on the internal policy regarding aspects like size, packaging or cost. Some companies define bicycles as “special” luggage, whereas others refer it as “sports equipment”. Anyway, read the plane company internal policy. One point to take into account is that your bike will travel in the hold and you need to dismantle it and use flanges to form a unique object. Then, put it inside a cardboard or plastic box. When you arrive to your destination, your bike will not appear on general conveyor belts, rather you will find it on separate ones. As it comes to ebikes, batteries above 100 Wh are considered dangerous goods, so you should send them separately or hire an ebike at your destination.

– Train: Hopefully in your country the situation is different than in Spain. Here, groups of cyclists complaint about all the difficulties they have when combining bike plus train not only at stations, but also when it comes to train carriages. In AVE, Alvia, Intercity Euromed and Avant trains, bikes must be inside a bag or box which the sum of height, width and fund should be 180 cm or less to be considered hand luggage. Otherwise, it is regarded as special luggage and has not overpass 120x90x40 cm. The AVLO trains follow the 180 cm rule, while the Ouigo trains allow your bicycle if it weights less than 30 kg and the object is as much as 120x90x40 cm. The biker pays extra money for the bike in both cases.

– Bus: There are a myriad of bus companies in Spain and some allow you to bring your bike by free whereas others demand you to pay up to 15€. In all cases the bicycle is packed with maximum measure being 120x90x40 cm.

The XVI Iberian Congress

The XVI Iberian Congress: “Beyond mobility” on bikes and cities took place in Cascais, Portugal, from May 2nd to 4th, 2019. This annual event started back in 1996 thanks to the support of ConBici (Spanish Coordinator in pursuit of Bicycles) and FPCUB (Portuguese Federation of Cycle Tourism and Bicycle users). The Covid-19 made it impossible in 2020, and there is the prevision of continuing with it in Barcelos (Portugal) and Barcelona (Spain) in 2021 at the time I write this post.

Audiences enjoyed speeches about a variety of subjects such as improving communities to strengthen the bike movement, better accessibility, how bikes enhance economy, EuroVelo (the European bike line net to cross from one country to another without stopping pedaling), environment and health, raising cycle tourism or Velocity 2021. Moreover, participants uplifted their mood in the bike ride and local cuisine in the 3-days congress.

It concluded in:

  • The need of norms and laws in the bike building process to ensure security

  • The debate proposed bikes as part of economic accessibility and a boom of local economy in comparison of the car counterparts

  • The challenge of bikes in Africa, with special attention to the lack of bicycle infrastructures and the stigma of relating this way of transport with poverty

  • Transporting senior citizens in bikes, fro instance cargo bikes, helps benefiting local communities

  • Promoting bike use in schools makes societies less dependent of car and petrol

  • Such change is importantly improved when favorable laws and figures of reference, mainly parents, contribute

  • The congress also pointed out the need of technician training to create well prepared persons who design bike infrastructures

  • Another spot was the lack of reliable studies regarding the economic impact of bike on society and the hope of the BooST “Boosting Starter Cycling Cities”  project will solve part of it

  • Moving from car cities to decarbonized cities

  • Promoting open data acquisition in regards of sustainable mobility

  • Intermodality

Delft train + bike station

One of the key concepts to fight against climate change is to allow people use non- or small-pollutant ways of transport. This fact, along with reducing space and infrastructures dedicated to noisy, contaminating transports, has been promoting in the most advanced countries for decades. One clear example is the Delft train + bike station (in The Netherlands) . This exemplar infrastructure enables thousands of people moving long distances under a comfortable, green model. Intermodality (1, 2) means just it: To transport people or things by using multiple modes of transportation. The good point in the Delft infrastructure is that the carbon footprint and the cost of using the station is considerably reduced in comparison with driving a car or a motorbike the same distance.

Why is so special this station? The Netherlands is well-known for being a paradise for urban cyclist and its developed railway system. So, they determined killing two birds with one stone. The Delft station was built thinking about the thousands of bikes one can see on a daily basis in the city. The result is a massive bike parking for 5,000 bicycles with natural light. A person arrives at the station by pedaling, locks her bike and takes the train. So easy, so powerful. What’s more, one can put it there for 14 days by free.

The modern bike parking sits of the floor and the train station is bellow it. But due to the fact of the enthusiasm people have shown with this infrastructure, there is an additional bike parking for 2,700 more bicycles close to the station. Well done!