Cycle spaces on trains

Should trains have bike spaces at all?

  • Yes

    Votes: 238 62.3%
  • No

    Votes: 74 19.4%
  • It's obviously complicated and context dependent

    Votes: 70 18.3%

  • Total voters
    382

pt_mad

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26 Sep 2011
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2,801
Yes because we should be encouraging all eco friendly modes of transport regardless.
Good point.

Great with trains with double doors and vestibules at thirds along the carriages. Not so good where you need a member of staff to open a bike space for you.
 
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smsm1

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3 Nov 2015
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I think it can be more complicated than that, because many 'intercity' trains become 'local' at some point in their journey.
The London-Norwich is like that too, being in Ipswich it feels odd to have a reservation for a 10 or 20 minute journey Manningtree or Colchester. Even the 45ish minutes to Norwich should be a turn up and go service and requires a reservation. It puts me off doing the journey.

I think the solution when numbers of cycle spaces are so limited is to require reservations AND provide an easy means to reserve (if spaces are available) up until the time the train departs each station. And also to charge a reasonable amount[*] for reservations - with the fee fully refundable if you cancel at least half an hour before the train leaves (to avoid people reserving then not showing up).
I like the idea of easier reservations, especially making it easier to drop your reservation if your plans change. Often you need to plan 24 hours in advance, and it's just too long for relatively short journeys of up to around 2 hours. How to get this rolled out nationally?

[*] I'd consider a reasonable amount to be something like 5% of the off-peak ticket price, with a minimum of £1.
Eek, that's expensive. The Dutch system is a flat rate fee per day, which discourages people taking cycles on short trains journeys, but long journeys it's worthwhile to pay the fee.
 

Spartacus

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25 Aug 2009
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So where is mad enough to be promoting "2 bikes at either end"? That sounds like it would be a bike thief's playground, pretty much advertising that all office-district stations would have loads of bikes unattended overnight every night and all weekend.
This might be one reason why bike theft from stations has been soaring recently (42% in one year!). As well as being good for the environment and your health, cycling's good for your wallet, but it's less so if you have to own two bikes, or have to replace it due to it getting stolen.

As someone who used to ride a lot, and take my bike on a train probably every other journey, I find that compulsory reservations put me off totally. There's no way I'll know exactly which train I'm going to be getting back from somewhere. I'd often go to the NYMR, riding from Malton to Pickering and back, but relying on them keeping to their timetable meant soemtimes I'd be an hour later returning than expected, while even just going for a ride myself my return time could be seriously affected due to wind and rain. It's ironic that TOCs are continuously going towards turn-up-and-go frquency, but tying certain users to specific trains more and more.
 

Tracked

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Let’s turn old Pacers into bike racks and drag them around on all the nice shiny new trains :E
Some of the Northern Pacers here in South Yorkshire actually have the best bike provision, imho. Trans-Pennine would have scored better if they hadn't insisted on booking spaces for their new trains, which we're not getting ...

I use an old, cheap, bike for commuting purposes, but leave it at Doncaster as by the time it'd have been locked up at the back of work it would give no time advantage (it'd also be awkward at Sheffield to change trains).
 

ashkeba

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13 May 2019
Messages
1,109
Is the lack of peak-time bike transport encouraging people to take those various illegal electric mini scooter things with them? They seem more visible near the London terminals than in central London.
 

ashkeba

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13 May 2019
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1,109
Have you every been to London? Or (to use another example) Cambridge?
Cambridge, where 30 bikes were nicked in one swoop this morning, says https://pic.twitter.com/UrJ6jY2tA2
more than 30 cut locks (within view of ~100 CCTV cameras!) Brazen criminality with apparent impunity. Police & station staff seem powerless and/or apathetic.
Is it any wonder people want to take their bikes on trains instead of parking at stations?
 

py_megapixel

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5 Nov 2018
Messages
593
Why? It strikes me as the perfect solution. Bike to/from the station and either tube in London or Boris bike.

Lots of London commuter stations already have bike storage. If anything improving that will be a lot easier (and cheaper) than increasing onboard cycle space.
The UK has some very large cities outside London.
London's public transport is actually an acceptable intergrated system.
Most other British cities still have separate transport companies which are unregulated, and equivalents to the Boris bike scheme are very rare. Until local urban transport gets the investment it needs on both profitable and unprofitable routes, nationwide, it will not be a realistic option for most people's "last mile" commutes for which cycling is popular.
 

6Gman

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Joined
1 May 2012
Messages
6,076
That deserves the same reply as to those drivers who complain about cyclists not using cycle lanes: they'd use them if they're all right. Do you think anyone wants to get in the way?

There are far too many trains where using the bike spaces means hanging it up by a part not intended for hanging, such as a wheel or crossbar, then risking getting blocked in by cyclists who board later. Turbo stars and IEP both suffer that and I think some others do too. Any fixing method other than individual racjs with straps should not be sallowed.
Quite happy with that as long as cyclists pay for the space.

(Hides under chair.)

Seriously, it struck me on a busy Merseyrail service recently where a guy got on with his bike and put it in the cycle space (occupying enough space for two extra seats) then went and sat - effectively using three spaces.
 

6Gman

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1 May 2012
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6,076
It is transport not only a pastime. Maybe peak time trains don't have space but there are plenty of off-peak trains moving around empty seats thoughtlessly left in the way of carrying bicycles, large luggage and so on.


Yes, to buy two extra bikes and wear a "kinky onsie" to overcome the problems with UK trains marks him out as "very keen". The UK will never be a healthy country if everyone except the "very keen" keeps on driving because it is made too difficult to combine bike and train - or anything else and train, for that matter, and then we may have no train service worth the name "service" and then the drivers will push for another wave of conversions to roads like parts of the A3088 and A16...

I think this sort of topic gets rail enthusiasts heated because it is an example of how the rail service is not really addressing these conflicts and ends up unthinkingly optimising everything for single light-luggage walk-on passengers instead of providing a broad range of service.
I used to take my motorbike by train. Very useful. Would you restore that facility?
 

ashkeba

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13 May 2019
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1,109
Quite happy with that as long as cyclists pay for the space.

(Hides under chair.)

Seriously, it struck me on a busy Merseyrail service recently where a guy got on with his bike and put it in the cycle space (occupying enough space for two extra seats) then went and sat - effectively using three spaces.
I have no objection to buying the bike a reasonably-priced ticket because it does take up space - I have done this in Belgium and the Netherlands and maybe elsewhere - but as @smsm1 (I think) has pointed out, there are good reasons for fairly flat-rate ticket prices (both Beglium and the Netherlands have bike day tickets with two price bands: one for national off-peak and another for anytime international services and connections).

I don't think it is as simple as saying the cycle occupies two seats though because well-designed trains can fit at least four bikes in the space of two seats, or fit a bike in windowless dead space no seats would go in.
 

43096

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23 Nov 2015
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6,898
I vote no. Cyclists are a blight on civilsed train users. There is always one blocking the door way, I always catch my bag or trouser legs on the dirtiest part of the said contraption and the owners are often sweaty simpletons wearing some kind of kinky onsie without, really, the package to justify it.

You own a bike. Ride it to work. Leave the trains for those of us too lazy to cycle or walk.

Oh and people with folding bikes: Tory perverts.
Agreed. Well most of it.

Given that cyclists seem to be universally incapable of using the facilities are provided for their devices and leave them in any gangway, corridor or doorway as they see fit, until such time as they can use the facilities properly then they should be banned.

There is a wider issue with these people - and it is getting towards being a majority of them - that they think they can do what they want because they are using a bike. Going on the pavement, wrong way down a one-way street, diving in and out of traffic, etc etc etc. They are an absolute menace, especially for pedestrians, and they need licensing with a proper competency test, as other road users have.
 

43096

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6,898
Another thing: should number of bike spaces be proportional to train length/capacity? Seems a bit weird for a 2-car Sprinter to have the same number of spaces as a 7-car Meridian (picking examples out of the air).
Yes it should be the same, regardless of length. Zero spaces on all trains.

Can you take a bike on a long distance coach?
 

brad465

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As a long distance cyclist I've often taken a bike for tour riding - away from taking my bike on a train to a holiday destination, I have spent a given day going by cycling in a different area to home (Exmoor from Taunton being a favourite from Uni days in Bath), then got the train back with little issue the same day. At the moment I cannot drive, but even if I could for some rides it would arguably not be safe to drive straight after a long ride (Exmoor was 90 miles in 7 hours), so the train works well for that too.
 

Scott1

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29 Apr 2015
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Personally I think they should be conveyed but not for free. The provision of cycle bays take up a large amount of space, and whilst it is a balance if a passenger wishes to take a none folding bike I'd prefer a small charge for this, especially as users of push chairs are required to fold them up on most routes. I'll be honest, I'd probably feel more sympathetic towards cyclists were it not for the number of issues I've had with them blocking gangways and wheelchair bays.
 

Mountain Man

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15 Jun 2019
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Yes to proper spaces, but equally yes to proper enforcement stopping them blocking up spaces not designed for bikes. I think a more robust bike space reservation system is needed
 

HSTEd

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14 Jul 2011
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11,057
Yes.
What is NOT needed is suggestions that people should
- buy a special (folding) bike for this purpose when they already have a perfectly good one
- or have two bikes so they can keep one at home for the trip to the departure station and then another kept locked at destination for use there
- or use one of those wretched and expensive rental bikes at destination.
These are sure ways to keep people in their cars. It would me - and I want to be an active/public transport traveller. No hope for those wedded to cars.

What IS needed, quite simply, is trains that are fit for purpose. That means big enough for people and their luggage (which may include a full size bicycle). Yes, it will cost money, but it would be well spent, and offers a (health money) saving elsewhere in the longer term. The saving might very well exceed the expense........
Doing that would cost much, much more than giving every regular a bike user a second bike for their commute.
Securing the bikes at the city centre location would also cost relatively little compared to the other alternatives.

Bikes are cheap, an optimised transport system will tolerate giving people extra bikes quite well.


Less so for nearly £2m train vehicles.
 

ashkeba

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They are an absolute menace, especially for pedestrians, and they need licensing with a proper competency test, as other road users have.
When did you pass your walking competency test then?

More generally, there is a name for punishing all tenuously-linked people for the sins of a minority and it's not nice. Where would banning arbitrary groups from train stop? Before or after rail services were bankrupt? Deal with the offenders instead of punishing everyone.
 

43096

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When did you pass your walking competency test then?
I don't walk down the middle of the actual road (rather than the pavement). I'm also not walking at significant speed which has the potential to do significant damage to others should you hit them.

If you're talking tenuous then I'd suggest you're the one making tenuous comparisons.
 

ashkeba

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I don't walk down the middle of the actual road (rather than the pavement). I'm also not walking at significant speed which has the potential to do significant damage to others should you hit them.

If you're talking tenuous then I'd suggest you're the one making tenuous comparisons.
Not really and plenty of incompetent joggers out there but this has little to do with bike space provision so I disagree on the above and leave it there while repeating the plea to deal with offenders instead of banning whole passenger groups. After all, we don't ban everyone carrying phones from stations because of the idiots who cause delays with them in many innovative ways.
 

43096

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Not really and plenty of incompetent joggers out there but this has little to do with bike space provision so I disagree on the above and leave it there while repeating the plea to deal with offenders instead of banning whole passenger groups. After all, we don't ban everyone carrying phones from stations because of the idiots who cause delays with them in many innovative ways.
Cycle provision on trains is costly and brings virtually no additional revenue. It doesn't exactly stack up on a cost:benefit basis.
 

ashkeba

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Cycle provision on trains is costly and brings virtually no additional revenue. It doesn't exactly stack up on a cost:benefit basis.
It brings revenue by attracting users who would otherwise drive or not travel and could bring more if bike tickets were sold and costs little more than providing other large luggage space if designed well, plus it opens up wider economical benefits from enabling more active travel. I think it is Beeching-onomics to see it as not stacking up.
 

Bletchleyite

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Cambridge, where 30 bikes were nicked in one swoop this morning, says https://pic.twitter.com/UrJ6jY2tA2
While it would be good if this was addressed (and some stations are good - Bletchley is covered in CCTV cameras and not at all hidden away), you can address it yourself by having a cheap second hand "hack bike" to use for going to the station, and keep your £5K road bike at home. It probably won't get nicked, but if it does it's only say 30 quid's worth.
 

Parallel

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The problem is the inconsistency of cycle spaces and how much the cycle policy is enforced.

My morning train is 5 cars operated by GWR (normally a 158 hybrid and a 150). Most of their 150s now have 4 bike spaces. The hybrid 158s either have 2 bike space sections with three spaces in each or 2 wheelchair sections depending which ‘Coach C’ has been bolted on. So in theory you can get up to 10 bicycle spaces on this formation which is pretty good. However sometimes a single 166 covers, and that has 2 spaces and usually you get bikes blocking the doors.
 

DC2001

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4 Aug 2019
Messages
90
Yes.
There is a move at least in Manchester and in Yorkshire towards promoting what is termed "active travel". This is where all or part of a journey is made using human power - walk, cycle, etc. It therefore includes a journey that is (say) (departure point) bike > train > bike (destination).

Active travel, if done properly and seriously
- improves the health of people by reducing obesity and increasing cardiovascular fitness, which in turn saves (health service) money
- reduces road congestion which improves the appeal of buses (quicker journeys), improves air quality which in turn improves health and saves (health service) money
and so on. It's all good.

What is NOT needed is suggestions that people should
- buy a special (folding) bike for this purpose when they already have a perfectly good one
- or have two bikes so they can keep one at home for the trip to the departure station and then another kept locked at destination for use there
- or use one of those wretched and expensive rental bikes at destination.
These are sure ways to keep people in their cars. It would me - and I want to be an active/public transport traveller. No hope for those wedded to cars.

What IS needed, quite simply, is trains that are fit for purpose. That means big enough for people and their luggage (which may include a full size bicycle). Yes, it will cost money, but it would be well spent, and offers a (health money) saving elsewhere in the longer term. The saving might very well exceed the expense........
A dedicated section for storage of bikes (that actually fits bikes) with a luggage rack in above would be a good start on most trains; on routes where the trains are full, more carriages need to be added to these services (supply and demand). The bike section should also not be shared with the wheelchair section; most bike users always try to go to the correct place when travelling with a bike.


Part of the cause of this is that (except on Northern) it is really hard to see where the space is.

It should look like this (same for wheelchair/pram areas):

Signage should be as clear as in the image from @Bletchleyite or at least obviously located such as always in the centre carriage to prevent the need for cyclists to have to run the length of the train.

If we want to encourage people to use sustainable transport rather than driving, we need suitable facilities onboard to cater for this. I find that generally when once bike is on board a train, further bikes hardly take up any additional space.
 

Taunton

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There is a more general issue that applies to specific provision in trains for specific groups or needs, whether it's play areas for children, bike spaces, full restaurant cars, wheelchair spaces, etc, and that is that the demand for all of these is extremely variable, and often the relevant passengers will only be around for a small proportion of the train's usage, whether it's by time of day, route, season, or whatever. The rest of the time the provision is wasted. Seats are a fairly basic requirement, and the railway is (somewhat) able to manage whether a 4 car or 12 car is required, but putting in special needs provision that is only used a small amount of the time is just wasteful.

Most trains I am on allow bicycles, but there aren't any, especially in the winter. I think the demand just isn't there.
 
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