The high cost of being on a bike

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Folding bike rider at parc royale

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – There is something wonderful about green spaces, such as Parc Royale.

“I bought the foldable for when I work outside Brussels and travel on the train with the bike. A classic bike costs too much. Five Euros for a journey or eight Euros for the day. When I work outside Brussels, I am reimbursed by my employer for my trips, but the bike would cost another 160 for a month. None of that is reimbursed.”

Photographer’s notes:
If there is one highly negative aspect to riding a bike every day to work in Belgium, it is the high cost of taking a standard bike on the train. No matter the distance, there is an extra charge of five Euros. Or get a day pass for eight Euros. It is not terrible for weekends and the long hauls, but as a daily expense, it prohibits people from taking their bikes to work. A foldable bike travels for free.

The high ticket cost – not to mention the awkwardness of piling bikes onto a train – has driven the popularity of foldable bikes for daily commuters. Along with vintage bikes, foldables seem the most popular everyday bikes.

I look forward to European train services being more open to bikes. Simple issues like a decent, functional, bike car on popular train routes, lower charges for trips, especially low-cost monthly fees, removing the fees on weekends, and, definitely, allowing free passage on Day Without Cars (always a Sunday) so people can travel to the capital in Brussels and join in.

Encouraging more bicycle usage, getting people out of cars, has to be more than getting people to a station and then leaving it for them to fend for themselves to get to work. Foldable bikes may seem solution, but they are not cheap.

While I am in a rant mode, public transport is never as cheap as presented. For trips made by an individual, it may be cheaper. But once a family travels, two or three people, the collective cost of the tickets makes the train counter-intuitive. Transport needs “family” passes with an expanded view of what forms a family. The UK rail service has expanded their notion of family. Not that I rave about UK rail costs. It is a crippling expense for families.

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