With its focus on environmentally friendly “last-mile” travel, SmartMove is in good company. The BiTiBi initiative, also funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, promotes one of the most promising but underused last-mile modes of all – the bicycle.
“Bike to Train to Bike”, or BiTiBi, seeks to multiply the success of the OV-Fiets bike-to-train system run by the Dutch national railway company, NS. Launched in 2003, OV-Fiets is now available at 250 out of 400 stations across the country. The system allows train passengers to reach their final destination by bike after disembarking.
OV-Fiets has helped put the Netherlands at the head of the pack when it comes to the bike-train-bike combination. Nearly half of all train passengers take a bike to reach the station. In addition to offering a high level of services, there is safe parking capacity in the Netherlands for almost 500,000 bicycles, usually with a direct connection to the platforms or station hall. All these facilities make cycling to train stations an easy, attractive option.
The BiTiBi initiative has identified four criteria for a successful bike-to-train system:
Within BiTiBi, several pilot project will be carried out in regions that want to try similar systems, or improve on those already in place.
In Belgium, the national rail carrier is working to expand and improve an existing system called Blue Bike. Parallel projects will take place in the Flanders and Wallonia regions, which have very different levels of cycling development but a shared goal of improving on the status quo.
In England, pilots will take place in Liverpool and the Merseyside region in the hope of improving the take-up of existing bike services provided by rail operators. Operator MerseyRail has 110,000 daily passengers, but only a small fraction currently use bikes to get to and from stations.
In the Milan area, pilots will focus on two rail stations, in Como and Bollate, in the city’s hinterland. They seek to be the first hubs for bike-train-bike modality in the Lombardy region. The plan is to introduce a multi-purpose travel card for accessing the train, bike parking and shared bikes – and to integrate Milan’s bike-sharing system with the existing one in Como and a planned one in Bollate.
In the Barcelona area, pilot projects will be carried out in Sant Cugat and Sant Boi, both with huge potential to boost bike-train communities. Activities in these towns will focus on the implementation of secure bike parking and shared bicycles at the main stations.
To find out more about the BiTiBi initiative, go to www.bitibi.eu.