A plush brochure for the new retail concept was handed out at a meeting in the House of Commons yesterday.
Earlier this month, news of the development was revealed to the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, visiting the Netherlands on a study tour to see how Dutch railway stations – and railway companies – positively encourage cycle parking.
Ned Railways operates 25 ‘Fiets Point’ bike shops at railway stations across the Netherlands. These bike shops also provide bike parking facilities, bike rental, and same-day bike servicing. They are operated as a means of generating more bike-to-the-station journeys, rather than as profit-centres.
The MPs and Lords on the study tour were told the Fiets Point bike centres were operated to break-even but were initially heavily subsidised, and all in order to increase the number of train journeys. Ned Railways found that when station car parks were full, the number of off-peak train journeys were reduced. However, when money and effort was pumped into creating thousands of secure bike parking spaces, the number of passenger train journeys increased.
Peak time passenger journeys also increased. A 12-minute video produced by BikeBiz exec editor Carlton Reid for the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group features a staggering number of bike commuters entering and leaving a Fiets Point shop. The video was shown to MPs, Lords and guests in a House of Commons committee room yesterday. Representatives of British train companies were present but the video will also be shown at a bike/train meeting next week, attended by ten train companies, and hosted by ATOC, the Association of Train Operating Companies.
The study tour participants were Viscount Craigavon; Lord Hoffman; Gwyn Prosser MP; Emily Thornberry MP; Sir George Young MP; Adam Coffman, secretariat for APPCG; Phillip Darnton, chair of Cycling England and Bike Hub; Nick Farthing, Sustrans; Simon Hollowood, Steer Davies Gleave; Adrian Lord, Arup; Rob Marshall, Transport Initiatives; Chris Peck, CTC; Carlton Reid, executive editor of BikeBiz; Jason Torrence, Sustrans; and Chris Williamson, CTC.
Most of those on the tour were at yesterday’s video screening. Of note, Theresa Villiers, the Shadow Secretary of Transport, was also in the Walpole Room for the meeting. AA president Edmund King – a Brompton rider and recent purchaser of a Whyte E-120 MTB – was also present, keen to forge links with bicycle organisations in order to reduce the ‘them and us’ culture of cyclists versus motorists.
Ned Railways – one of the two sponsors of the study tour (with the other being Eurostar) – runs Merseyrail as well as the UK’s largest rail network, the Northern Rail franchise. The company is to create a Fiets Point at Leeds station, although, of course, called CyclePoint (and not connected with the electric bike retailer, Cyclepoint.net). Leeds station is owned by Network Rail. Northern Rail is to work with Network Rail, Leeds City Council, CTC, the Department for Transport and the West Yorkshire PTE to open the Cyclepoint by early 2010.
Stephen Bond, Head of Business Development at Northern Rail, says: "The Leeds CyclePoint is the first of a planned series of similar iniatives, and can be replicated at a number of other locations."
At a dinner in the Hague, hosted by NedRailways, the company’s CEO Anton Volk – who, of course, cycles – outlined the plans for the UK version of Fiets Point.
He said: "Cycling plays an important role in supporting sustainable transport and facilitating efficient door to door journeys. In the Netherlands we have long understood the transport benefits of a fully integrated cycle system, as well as the personal benefits to be derived from improved health and even the simple pleasure that cycling brings.
"CyclePoint is based on a proven Dutch concept which combines manned and secure cycle storage with retail, repair and hire facilities at major stations. I hope [the Leeds CyclePoint] will pave the way for further CyclePoints at major stations across the UK."
Heidi Mottram, MD of Northern, said: "CyclePoint will not only provide passengers with a new option to continue their journey, but will also give Leeds residents and commuters a high-quality cycle rental and retail facility."
The parliamentary study tour video shows how a Fiets Point works in the city of Leiden, smaller than Leeds but with a far larger number of cyclists. The Leeds CyclePoint will be smaller than the one in the video but will be prominent: in the front of the station, next to the taxi rank. It will have two floors. The development will start small, but is "scalable" says Bond. "Storage can be increased as demand increases."
He added: "A detailed financial and demand appraisal indicates that, by 2012, operating costs of the Cyclepoint will be covered by revenue generated."
Northern will pay for kitting out the bike shop and bike parking levels, and will also fund the salaries of the Cyclepoint staff. In the Netherlands, Fiets Point shops retail bicycles (mostly cheap Dutch roadsters but also higher spec machines), luggage, locks and other urban bike consumables.