A compulsory bicycle reservation on the train cannot be enforced and leads to countless practical problems for travelers. The Fietsersbond, Rover, ANWB, LSVb, Elke(in) and KBO-PCOB, united in the Locov, warn against this. The consumer organizations advise NS to urgently look at other solutions, such as expanding the number of bicycle places on the train and introducing a 'public transport bicycle plus'.
NS wants to make a reservation via the app or customer service mandatory this summer for travelers who want to take their bicycle with them. However, consumer organizations see a number of major practical objections. For example, international travelers cannot make the reservation, which is in violation of European rules. The mobility and freedom of travel of people with disabilities will also come under pressure. Travelers who prefer to travel anonymously will object to providing their email address when making a reservation. The collaborating organizations also fear heated discussions with travelers who have bought a bicycle ticket without a reservation from another transport company.
No guarantee on a place
Although some travelers are willing to make a reservation if this offers a guarantee of a bicycle space, consumer organizations find that this is not feasible. After all, bicycle spaces can also be occupied by prams or by bicycles of travelers who have missed a connection due to delays. A different type of train may also arrive than planned, resulting in fewer bicycle spaces. In addition, the organizations point out that people with disabilities have the right to take their aids with them on the train throughout the day, without reservation, for which the bicycle spaces are also designated. Having to reserve a place stands in the way of their right to free travel.
Don't prevent but create
In recent years, the number of bicycle spaces on a number of trains has been reduced or has become so tight that bicycles hinder other travellers. The consumer organizations are therefore asking NS not to ban bicycles, but to create more places. For example, following the example of Arriva, it is possible to work with dismountable benches in the busy summer months. Space can also be made by placing suspension structures or moving some trash cans. Finally, better findability of bicycle places would reduce nuisance, for example by clearly marking the bicycle balcony on the outside of the train. A petition from Rover and the Fietsersbond for more bicycle spaces on the train has already been signed more than 7000 times.
OV bicycle plus
The consumer organizations also advise NS to come up with attractive initiatives to reduce bicycle traffic. For example, with cheap tickets, NS could tempt cyclists to opt for off-peak hours or the less popular Sprinter trains. The public transport bicycle can also play a role. The consumer organizations propose to introduce an 'OV-fiets-plus': a rental bicycle with extra facilities for cyclists such as bicycle bags and gears. “As a cyclist who uses the train, you want to be able to cycle carefree and make spontaneous decisions. For example, in the event of material breakdown, a change of weather or a spontaneous meeting”, the consumer organizations write. They ask NS to do justice to the image of 'the Netherlands bicycle country' by offering bicycle transport in an accessible way, according to the Fietsersbond.