Cycling to stations has grown mostly amongst on-train users
Cycling to stations has grown mostly amongst on-train users

Cycling to stations doubles in 7 years

The number of people cycling to railway stations has steadily increased over the last 7 years, figures from the National Passenger Survey, obtained by CTC, reveal.

18.5 million rail journeys – or over 50,000 trips a day – started with a bike ride to the station in 2006. By 2013, that had increased to 38.4 million, or 105,000 per day.

2.6% of passengers in 2013 arrived at the station by bike, up from 2% in 2006. In the meantime the number of people travelling by train has also increased by over a third over the same period.

However, most of the growth has been amongst people carrying their bikes onto the train, with this rising from almost 25,000 trips per day in 2006, to 66,000 in 2013. CTC has always urged train operating companies that good cycle parking at stations only solves issues for half of cycle-rail users: many people with bikes are using trains to make leisure journeys to start a bike ride at the weekend or off-peak, and they need to take their bike with them on the train.

Proper design of trains with adequate flexible space – which can be used for luggage, push chairs, as well as bikes – means that the operators can get more use out of their trains during the 75% of the time they are not being used for commuting. Better cycle parking at stations, meanwhile, means cycle commuters feel more confident leaving their bikes for the whole day.

Plans to boost non-car rail access

Today, Norman Baker MP, the minister for local transport, launched guidance setting out how stations should plan to reduce car use at stations and increase the numbers of people using sustainable modes of travel.

The guidance draws together lessons from a pilot project involving 24 towns, each of which developed plans to increase non-car access to stations and boost passenger numbers. Installation of additional cycle parking created the biggest increase in behaviour change. Many rail operators have undertaken extensive programmes to increase cycle parking as a result, with the number of cycle parking spaces on the rail network set to top 100,000 by 2015.

These new figures are a result of hard work to increase capacity for cycle parking at stations, but shows that most people still need to take their bike with them on the train. When procuring new trains the Government needs to make sure that adequate space is available on the trains, as well as requiring good, secure parking at stations for those travelling at peak times.

Chris Peck
Policy Co-ordinator CTC

Which operator is the best?

South West Trains has the highest number of people arriving at trains by bike, with over 4% of all passengers, most of whom take their bikes with them on the train rather than parking at the station. CTC has advised South West Trains on the refurbishment of some of their suburban trains to create better designed spaces for bikes.

Other operators in London and the South East have witnessed similar increases. These locations have often seen the biggest increases in rail travel, yet car parks at stations are already full. Increasing cycle access to these stations helps rail operators sustain the growth in their business, while reducing congestion, pollution and danger around the station building.

The long distance operators – East Coast and Virgin – have the lowest figures for cycle access to stations, mainly because cycle carriage is more restricted on these trains (reservations are required and space is limited) and many of the trips are irregular, and therefore less suited to access by bike.

Chris Peck