The combination of bicycles and public transport can represent an environmentally friendly alternative to car traffic on a large number of routes, with the bicycle serving mainly as a means of reaching public transportation stations. In many cases, taking a bike on the bus or train also represents a good combination - especially for day-trips or holiday travel. It can also make sense for certain commuter journeys that are made on a daily basis.
Trains are especially important for bicycle transportation; usually trains serve longer distances than trams and buses and they offer more space within the vehicle for transporting bicycles. When the DB AG (German Railway) gave its consent to the transport of bicycles in the doorway zone of trains in 1989 this doubled the number of passengers taking bikes with them. However, the transport of bicycles in the doorway zone can only be a temporary solution to make up for a lack of better specially-equipped railway coaches. But what do "bicycle-friendly trains" look like? Is the old-fashioned "guard's van" the solution?
Since the ADFC (General German Bicycle Club) was founded in the 1980s, it has called for an improvement in the relationship between bicycles and trains. The "Public Transport" study group discusses this topic at federal level. After initial talks with the former nationalised railway company, meetings are now held with the privatised DB AG on a regular basis. In these meetings, problems relating to bicycle transportation are discussed and solutions prepared. The opening up of the doorway zones on trains for bicycle transport and the provision of facilities for bicycle transport in InterRegio trains - which became a special feature of this type of train - are a direct result of the ADFC's work. The present bicycle transportation capacity of German railways, however, does not nearly satisfy the demand. In a bid to dispel the reservations that still exist with regard to bike transport on trains, we have collected the results of a large number of discussions and practical tests on different types of trains and report our findings in the descriptions that follow.
Design and photos: Wolfram Däumel
Translation: Torben Heinemann