Bike racks

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MackTen

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Given it's been a while since the front interior of buses started resembling vast empty hangars, I'm actually surprised it's taken this long for operators to start eyeing up cyclists as potential patrons. As far as I know anyway on mainstream services (i.e., Moorsbus etc aside). For those who don't know, foldaway bike racks are a feature of some the new X-Lines buses of Go North East. It may even be present elsewhere, so if you know of any, speak up.

Sadly, other than a YouTube video of how to use it, there's not much else on their website to promote it, such as a map of where you can now go on your bike, or indeed, why you might do that (we are blessed with mile upon mile of cycle way up here, in our post industrial paradise).

I wonder if they're not deliberately underplaying it, just trying to wait and see if it takes off, given it's a low cost addition, with no downside if it doesn't get used. The temporary cycle lanes in Gateshead town centre, and the resulting chaos, definitely wasn't well received by the motoriaed travelling public.

It depresses me to think it might have only taken a pandemic and climate emergency, for bikes on buses to become a thing. Credit at least to GNE for having something about X-Lines that is actually forward thinking.

Will it become more than a niche thing, is the question? I am uncertain whether I will ever try to use it, and that might be a worry for GNE, as I have no issue with using trains and the Metro as a cyclist. There would seem to be reasons why a bus might be an little more problematic, although on the flip side, there might also be advantages.
 
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carlberry

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Given it's been a while since the front interior of buses started resembling vast empty hangars, I'm actually surprised it's taken this long for operators to start eyeing up cyclists as potential patrons. As far as I know anyway on mainstream services (i.e., Moorsbus etc aside). For those who don't know, foldaway bike racks are a feature of some the new X-Lines buses of Go North East. It may even be present elsewhere, so if you know of any, speak up.

Sadly, other than a YouTube video of how to use it, there's not much else on their website to promote it, such as a map of where you can now go on your bike, or indeed, why you might do that (we are blessed with mile upon mile of cycle way up here, in our post industrial paradise).

I wonder if they're not deliberately underplaying it, just trying to wait and see if it takes off, given it's a low cost addition, with no downside if it doesn't get used. The temporary cycle lanes in Gateshead town centre, and the resulting chaos, definitely wasn't well received by the motoriaed travelling public.

It depresses me to think it might have only taken a pandemic and climate emergency, for bikes on buses to become a thing. Credit at least to GNE for having something about X-Lines that is actually forward thinking.

Will it become more than a niche thing, is the question? I am uncertain whether I will ever try to use it, and that might be a worry for GNE, as I have no issue with using trains and the Metro as a cyclist. There would seem to be reasons why a bus might be an little more problematic, although on the flip side, there might also be advantages.
Bike trailers have been a feature of a few leisure services over the years and there was a service in the mendips south of Bristol that used Optare Solos with bike racks on the rear to operate an all day service however they, and the service, eventually disappeared. The problem is that they'll be unpopular a lot of the time then too popular on a few days and you only have to be turned away once to mean you wont try it again.

At present, of course, it's impossible to promote anything travel related (even for essential users) without the Covid hit squad condemining it. I suspect it'll be better promoted when there are less restrictions on travel.
 

jammy36

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Given it's been a while since the front interior of buses started resembling vast empty hangars, I'm actually surprised it's taken this long for operators to start eyeing up cyclists as potential patrons. As far as I know anyway on mainstream services (i.e., Moorsbus etc aside).
I think it has been tried before - specialist implementations like the Devon Bike Bus from Okehampton to Exeter as an example that was operated by North Devon (Red Bus) using Leyland National with internal bike racks, or more mainstream, like Truronian with their T34 "Helston Branch line" service that was upgraded in 1999 with new Plaxton Pointers that included external rear mounted bike racks.

Will it become more than a niche thing, is the question?
This is the probably the major flaw with the concept and why earlier schemes have fallen by the wayside after initial fanfare - if it becomes anything more than a niche thing, then the bike spaces will quickly become used up meaning the service becomes unusable for cyclists as travel becomes unreliable and uncertain. Alternatively if usage remains low, then there is no real desire from operators to implement more widely.
 

philthetube

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I can see drivers having fun with this one, capacity being the big issue,

Is it taking wheelchair space, if people are standing do they have to move away from the area etc.
 

MackTen

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Well yes, the point of the thread was rather to highlight that these things are not as odd/special/onerous as other options tried previously, and the only thing that seems to mark these out as targeted at pleasure travellers, is the choice of routes.

It otherwise could and might become a standard feature, if they get used. Then again, they might still not get used, because they aren't a standard feature, and haven't been promoted very much (certainly not as much as the fact your bus has got a battery underneath it), when both things are surely appealing to the climate conscious.

Taking your bike onto an electric bus to get from your rural idyll, where you grow your own cheese and darn your own cows, to commute to your day job as a liberal Democrat councillor in the big city? Heaven for some people. Not currently an option even in GNE land. You can cycle and bus to work on a clean diesel bus, or you can go riding in the country, escaping your urban hell hole first on a bus. If you knew of these things.

Alternatively if usage remains low, then there is no real desire from operators to implement more widely.
I think my point was that these implementations, if I am seeing it right, seem to be so simple and unobtrusive when not used, and presumably not too pricey to spec, and aren't otherwise reducing seating capacity (as I presume they did on Nationals), there's no real downside to operators keeping then long term, even if usage is virtually nil.

And the logical answer to what to do if they become too popular, is surely to make them a standard feature, and maybe, shock horror, run more buses (to make more money?

I perhaps wasn't clear, the X-Lines routes they are on, are not particularly well known as scenic or country routes, at least no more than most of the GNE rural network.

It may well be that the decision to spec racks here, had as much to do with targeting rural commuters as it was Sunday peak time leisure riders. I don't know, because they haven't said....it's all been done on the relative down low, an afterthought against promoting the other more obvious (not exactly) new things about these new services, as far as I can tell. I was surprised there was even a video telling you how to use them, but that of course costs nothing these days.

I can see drivers having fun with this one, capacity being the big issue,

Is it taking wheelchair space, if people are standing do they have to move away from the area etc.
I got the impression it takes up the pram space, not the wheelchair space opposite, so you can maybe have two bikes and a wheelchair. Who then gets priority, a bike or a pram, is one of the many questions, hence why it would have been nice to see a bit more info from GNE.
 
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Bletchleyite

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With regard to city buses, several German cities (e.g. Hamburg) allow bikes on city buses in the multipurpose space (wheelchair/pram/bike) with no other special arrangement, but you just about never see it. This is probably because it's quicker to ride it, either all the way or between railway stations at each end instead. I think the demand only really comes either as a "rescue" thing (i.e. flat tyre/mechanical failure) or if it's tipping down.

Regional buses are perhaps different, and I've seen bikes on the X5 (they just go underneath) a number of times.
 

scotrail158713

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Borders Buses are good at promoting theirs. They would usually post what services “the bike bus” would be on each day.
I think part of the reason for their introduction was because of the mountain biking at Glentress just outside Peebles, and people from Edinburgh could use the bus to get there.
 

philthetube

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And the logical answer to what to do if they become too popular, is surely to make them a standard feature, and maybe, shock horror, run more buses (to make more money?
At two bikes per bus I am not sure how this would work?
 

MackTen

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Go North East....

Bike bus guarantee​

If for any reason the bus isn’t one of our cycle friendly types on your return, in partnership with our friends at Stanley Travel, we’ll still get you home.

Our drivers can contact our central control room who can then arrange to book a cycle friendly taxi to move you and your bike, ensuring that you don't need to worry about any unexpected matters getting in the way of an enjoyable day out on your bike, with the bus helping to take you to new and further away destinations.

----------

This changes the game a bit. Still baffled why they chose to bury this genuine innovation, in amongst a bunch of pretty bog standard improvements in the X-Lines launch
 

Bristol LHS

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It’s the second time GNE have tried this. The ‘Lime’ - the 8/78 route out of Sunderland and up to Stanley, now known as Coast and Country, had a bike feature on a batch of Renowns. It wasn‘t as well done as on the X-lines - essentially a set of straps that you could tie your bike up with, rather than a rack. The facility wasn’t replicated on the streetlites that replaced the renowns.

The thing both these route have in common is the North West Durham destination, which is on the C2c cycle route. Essentially GNE can take leisure cyclists ‘up the hill’ and they can then cycle downhill to the coast (the C2C has two options - North Shields or Roker) Neither of these routes has rail competition, so the bike feature is unique to the bus (rather than replicating an option already available via the train.

I‘m glad to see the facility back on Xlines and hope to make use of it this summer. Suspect GNE will feel more bullish about marketing it post Covid.
 

Citistar

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Whilst i can see the benefits on longer services, i honestly don't think cycle facilities should become the norm, and certainly not in urban areas. Carl touched on the Mendip Solos which i was involved with at the time (2000-2002) and the rear mounted racks on those were a disaster. To prevent theft when the vehicle was stopped, the cycles were supposed to be locked in with solenoids controlled from the cab, but these corroded in to place within weeks of introduction. This was not only down to the racks being crap, but also the filthy country roads the services were using.

Any internal facility would detract from space available for passengers in some way and when social distancing starts to become a memory, we will hopefully come to remember what a reasonably full bus looks like. It is Murphy's Law that you'll find yourself carrying a full load of passengers on the last trip on a Bank Holiday when you arrive at the bottom of a hill to find a family of cyclists who you know will be going straight to the local press because they were turned away by the evil bus company. I don't understand why any operator would willingly put themselves in that situation. Dedicated or converted vehicles may be a reasonable alternative, but they're not a solution which will in any way ever be commercially viable.
 

philthetube

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I wonder what happens if too many people turn uo with bikes, if they offer to get all home then a cycling club could take advantage.
 

MackTen

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I wonder what happens if too many people turn uo with bikes, if they offer to get all home then a cycling club could take advantage.
They can certainly try, but the company would be on solid legal grounds to refuse such an obviously manufactured scenario. They will operate the guarantee for as long as doing so doesn't start impeding the bottom line. If it does, well, the facility gets withdrawn, along with the guarantee. Standard operating procedure.

If these things get so popular that upping the frequency doesn't help, the only viable answer is obviously to start running dedicated bike buses. I doubt this is even on their rader though. I regularly take my bike on the Metro, and I can count on one hand the time their relatively small capacity (maybe four spaces per train, one train every fifteen minutes) hasn't seemed sufficient, even on lovely bank holidays.

You can't really account for stupidity of course. I have no idea what I was thinking when I rocked up to the Metro on Great North Run day, expecting to get space on a South Shields bound service. But you know what, I had a bike. So I took the complete empty Sunderland branch, and made up the difference with a nice ride along the coastal path.

Bike users are perhaps unique among potential bus passengers - it's actually not that much of a drag to wait for the next bus, assuming a reasonably frequent service. You can just ride to the next stop. And while you would likely get the most benefit from this service by being able to broaden your horizons, it's unlikely you would ever leave yourself in a situation where you couldn't actually ride all the way home, if you absolutely had to.

These aren't much benefit to those with punctures looking for a ride home, since you're unlikely to find yourself with a flat within reasonable walking distance to the bus, and it doesn't have to be far before all the other alternatives become preferable (fixing it yourself, calling a friend, or calling your own taxi).
 

Bletchleyite

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It would strike me that with a limited availability (2 per bus) that reservations would be the way to go. That way the driver would also know (if the reservation was made early enough) that they should insist on buggies being folded on that bus to avoid arguments later.
 
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