The bicycle friendliness of European railway operators

The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) has released a new report, “Cyclists love trains: An analysis of the bicycle friendliness of European railway operators,” which aims to guide industry and policymakers in identifying ways to improve the combination of two of the most sustainable modes of transport: bikes and trains.

This timely new report analyses and ranks 69 European train companies and services according to six key indicators for combined bike-and-train travel, such as bicycle spaces in trains and the quality of bike ticket or reservation channels. The report’s rankings show that there is much room for improvement in Europe.

Only one train service, NS-DB (Intercity Berlin), which runs between Amsterdam and Berlin, scored in the “excellent” category. Operators that scored in the “good” category in facilitating bike-and-train travel include SNCB/NMBS, SBB, Deutsche Bahn and MÁV-START.

One fourth of the 69 operators and services scored in the “moderate” category, including České dráhy, SNCF and Trenitalia, while the rest perform either “poorly” or “very poorly” on most indicators, including Flixtrain, Greater Anglia, Renfe and Eurostar.

Electrically Powered Bicycle Trailer & Hand Cart (DIY)

electric powered bike trailer

The German-made Carla Cargo is a three-wheeled cycle trailer with an electric assist motor. It can be pulled by any type of bicycle (including a cargo cycle or an electric bike), and it allows you to carry heavy (up to 150 kg) and bulky cargo (a loading platform of 60 x 160 cm). Uncoupled from the bicycle, the Carla Cargo works as a hand cart for large or heavy loads. The vehicle weighs 40 kg including the battery, and has a range of 40 to 60 km.

carla cargo bike trailerThe electric motor is built into the front wheel and can produce 250 watts as a trailer (up to 23 km/h), and 500 watts as a handtruck (up to 6 km/h). The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 11 or 15 Ah. The vehicle has two disk brakes and a parking brake, which are controlled via the handle or the bicycle handlebar.

The Carlo Cargo sells for about 4,000 euro. The construction manual is freely accessible online, but only in German for now. The trailer/handcart is present at the International Cargo Bike Festival, April 16-17, in Nijmegem, the Netherlands.

Previously: 8-wheeler cargo cycle.

Transcontinental Old School Cycle Race

transcontinental cycle race

“In the early days of bicycle racing there was a time when plucky riders took on long hard races alone with no team cars and soigneurs to look after them.  They were hardy and desperate men who ate what they could find, slept when they could and rode all day.  They weren’t professional athletes or men of means, they were “mavericks, vagabonds and adventurers” who picked up a bicycle and went to seek their fortune.

The founders of the Tour de France wanted to create a race of thousands of miles of cycling, whatever the weather and road conditions where “even the best will take a beating”  Often they would race long into the night to distances of over 400 km each day in stages that would take more than 18 hours.  Henri Desgrange, the father of the tour once noted that “the ideal Tour would be a Tour in which only one rider survives the ordeal.”

Somewhere along the way from a variety of influences, the grand tours changed to become what they are today; a race of the elite, held apart from the common cyclist by budgets, sanctions and industry.  Don’t get us wrong, the Grand Tours as they are now are great and exciting things.  We however also like the old way where a rider can simply pick up a bike, shake hands on the start line and race thousands of miles for the pure satisfaction of sport and no other motive but for the learnings of one’s self.”

The Transcontinental is a low impact, self supported cycle race. Now in it’s 4th year, it will travel between Geraardsbergen in Flanders and Canakkale in Turkey passing through control points in the Auvergne region of France, Switzerland, the Dolomites in Italy and Durmitor national park in Montenegro. Entries for 2016 are closed, but the organisers are looking for volunteers, who will be eligible for a priority application in next year’s race.

The Big Velomobiles Graphic

velomobiles graphicMads Phikamphon from Denmark published an infographic depicting 27 velomobiles with their specifications and performance. It’s a handy overview for those who are considering to try one of these vehicles that blur the lines between cars and bicycles. The infographic was originally published at Cykelvalg. We leave the word to Mads:

“Most people consider velomobiles as a rather new invention, but the first velomobiles were actually invented much earlier than most people think. In the 1930s you could buy a set of instructions to build your own “Fantom” – a velomobile for 2 persons made out of wood. Thousands of copies of the instructions were sold, but few bikes were built and soon the velomobiles were all but forgotten as cars got more and more popular. It wasn’t until the oil crisis in the 1970s that velomobiles again started to get some attention. A well recognized velomobile from that time is the “Leitra” that remains a popular model amongst many velomobile enthusiasts.”

“As you can see in the graphic below, there are now lots of models to choose between if you want a velomobile, although almost all of them share quite a few characteristics: 3 wheels, an aerodynamic body and room for just one person. Thanks to the aerodynamic body a velomobile is also the fastest HPV or Human Powered Vehicle around. In 2013 a “Velo X3” velomobile reached an amazing 134 km/h (83 mph) and many people expect the “Arion” velomobile to go even faster when it’s ready for testing in 2015. The only big problem that remains is that all the models are rather expensive. No velomobiles are being mass manufactured, so the price of a new velomobile remains at least $3000.” [Read more…]

Cycling: Why Tunnels are Better than Bridges

  • Tunnels offer faster journeys than bridges due to less climbing. Steeper gradients can be used than with a bridge because cyclists going into a tunnel first ride downhill and pick up speed which can be used to climb back out of the tunnel.
  • Tunnels have a smaller height difference than bridges. Only need clearance for the height of a cyclist, not for trucks or trains plus electric lines.
  • Tunnels take up less space than a bridge because inclines are shorter.
  • Tunnels are easier to fit into an existing landscape.
  • Tunnels offer protection from wind and rain.
  • A possible disadvantage is low social safety. It is important that cyclists can see out of a tunnel before they enter it. There should be no turns within the tunnel, no-where for a potential mugger to hide. Obviously tunnels should also be well lit.

why tunnels are better than bridges

Picture: All crossings in Assen [The Netherlands] can be used without slowing down. This is one of the many cycle and pedestrian crossings of a major road. Four metre wide cycle-path, separate pedestrian path, gentle inclines, well lit and we can see right through for good social safety. Built in the 1970s, well maintained: last resurfaced 2012.

Quoted from a blogpost at “A view from the cyclepath”, which discusses Dutch standards for cycling tunnels and bridges.

Eight-Wheeler Cargo Cycle

8wheeler cargo bikeThink you need a car or a van to move large and heavy stuff around? Think again. This eight-wheeler cargo cycle features a 10 m2 bamboo loading platform and a 450 kg loading capacity. The chassis is based on that of a concrete mixer. The vehicle has four-wheel steering and independent wheel suspension. With two drivers it achieves an average speed of 10 – 15 km/h, which could be further increased by the use of electric motors.

The cargo cycle was designed and built by Berliner Nico Jungel. Find more pictures and videos at his website. The vehicle was spotted at the International Cargo Bike Festival in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. See all pictures of the event (including more images of the 8-wheeler). Previously: Cargo cyclists replace truck drivers on European city streets.