‘Premium bike parking’ program at Swiss train stations draws controversy

A pilot project providing paid cycle parking at more convenient locations outside major train stations across Switzerland has caused controversy, with critics arguing that it drives up the cost of cycling and reduces overall bike parking opportunities.

‘Premium bike parking’ program at Swiss train stations draws controversy
Photo: Joël SAGET / AFP

The program – run concurrently by the Swiss transport authority (SBB) and start-up Smartmo – is being set up across stations in Lucerne, Zurich, Basel and Solothurn, letting riders rent an allocated cycle parking space via an app for an hourly rate.

Parking centres at train stations in Uster and Basel are set to follow. 

In Lucerne, where the initial rollout has already taken place, cyclists pay 65 cents to use the parking space, with each additional hour costing five cents more.

Cyclists may also use the app to reserve a parking space well ahead of time – paying 66 cents for the reservation and an additional six cents for each hour that follows. 

They can park for a maximum of 48 hours in a row, while a reservation may only be made for up to 12 hours. The stations also include lockers for helmets and charging facilities for electric bikes. 

As reported by Swiss online newspaper Watson, the program came about in part due to the increasing popularity of cycling – with appropriate parking places near major transport hubs being harder to find. 

Critics argue that the new parking stations – which require more space than traditional cycle parking – will aggravate rather than alleviate the problem. 

Lucerne politician and mobility activist Nico van der Heiden (Social Democrats) has argued the move does not benefit urban mobility as a whole, with one of Switzerland’s only cheap transport options becoming more expensive as a consequence of the parking centres. 

“This shows a ‘two-class’ mentality. Normal customers have to park far away while those who can afford it get to enjoy premium parking,” he said. 

“The new stands require a lot of space, it will definitely result in fewer bicycle parking (spaces).” 

The SBB has dismissed the criticisms, arguing that a significant amount of bicycle parking remains. 

A pro e-bike association has also praised the program, arguing that the additional security of the parking centres would add to the appeal of e-biking. 

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica}
p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px}
p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 14.0px; font: 12.0px Times; color: #0000e9; -webkit-text-stroke: #0000e9}
p.p4 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 14.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px}
p.p5 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 14.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica}
span.s1 {text-decoration: underline ; font-kerning: none}

Claudia Bucher, from Pro Velo Switzerland, told Watson “the new parking system could appeal to a further target group. E-bike riders, for example, who want to know their bike is safe and would not otherwise leave it at the station.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Swiss rider dies after fall into ravine on Tour of Switzerland

Swiss rider Gino Maeder has died from the injuries he sustained when he plunged into a ravine during a stage of the Tour of Switzerland, his team Bahrain-Victorious said on Friday.

Swiss rider dies after fall into ravine on Tour of Switzerland

Maeder, 26, fell during a high-speed descent on the fifth stage between Fiesch and La Punt on Thursday, after an exhausting day marked by three ascents over 2,000 metres altitude.

He had been found “lifeless in the water” of a ravine below the road, “immediately resuscitated then transported to the hospital in Chur by air”, organisers said.

But the next day, “Gino lost his battle to recover from the serious injuries he sustained,” Bahrain-Victorious said in a statement.

“It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we must announce the passing of Gino Mäder,” his team wrote in a statement.

“On Friday June 16th, following a very serious fall during the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse, Gino lost his fight to recover from the serious injuries he had suffered. Our entire team is devastated by this tragic accident, and our thoughts and prayers are with Gino’s family and loved ones at this incredibly difficult time.”

“Despite the best efforts of the phenomenal staff at Chur hospital, Gino couldn’t make it through this, his final and biggest challenge, and at 11:30am we said goodbye to one of the shining lights of our team,” the team said in a statement.

Maeder had enjoyed a strong start to the season, finishing fifth in the Paris-Nice race.

American rider Magnus Sheffield also fell on the same descent from Albula, during the most difficult stage of the race with multiple climbs. The Ineos-Grenadiers rider was hospitalised with “bruises and concussion,” organisers said.

On Thursday, world champion Remco Evenepoel criticised the decision to compete on such a dangerous road.

“While a summit finish would have been perfectly possible, it wasn’t a good decision to let us finish down this dangerous descent,” the Belgian wrote on Twitter.

“As riders, we should also think about the risks we take going down a mountain.”