I’ve been lucky enough to live in a few countries over the years, but it’s not until I came to Switzerland that I have seen bike infrastructure this good.
You might say “bikes on a train? Nothing special”. But…
- Every train has bike storage, and on most every carriage (local trains), not just the mail carriage by the engine
- There’s 5 or 6 bike slots on this carriage, not cramped together into a corner by the door. Half the seats in the carriage have been taken out to make space for bikes.
- There are huge bike parking facilities at most stations. Almost too big actually… Good luck finding your bike again (ugly bright colours are your friend).
- Check out how clean the train is (and the bike). No clutter, no tangle of bicycles banging into each other.
- This is an intercity commuter train between two major Swiss cities at peak time…
Swiss people are, in general, affluent (certainly compared to the global average), and this choice is not motivated by cost savings, but by an enjoyment of riding.
For cycling to be an option as part of our daily back and forth, it has to be easy (and safe). In most cases, cyclists accept (sometimes unreasonable) compromises in order to cycle daily.
This is a great example of a society in which a “normal” person, rides from home down to the central station, pops her bike on the train, travels to another city, pops the bike off the train and then parks it at work.
Hers is the pink road bike in the picture above. She is dressed for the office, not for a cyclocross event.
Of course full lycra, SPD clip shoe commuter cycling on a full carbon road frame remains an option…
These facilities are a great step in the right direction, towards keeping people heathy, safe and happy. That’s what our public institutions should be doing, and what we should be asking for.
Well done Switzerland.