Thursday 14 January 2010

Love your bike... just don't take a tram

Here's a good quote for a dark and frosty winter's day, it's from Arthur Conan Doyle:

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”

Lovely... but just don't try and get on a tram when those legs get a little tired, as it looks like Greater Manchester is about to vote to continue its ban on tram-borne bikes.

It pains me to say it, but when it comes to bikes on the metro, London can do it. In fact a host of other cities can manage it. Here's just a snapshot of light rail or tram services around the world that let cyclists on board:

Sydney Light Rail
British Colombia SkyLink
Calgary Transit
Copenhagen Metr
Lille – Transpole
Berlin BVG
Bielefeld moBiel
Frankfurt VGF
Hannover USTRA
Munchen MVV
Nurnberg VGN
Stuttgart SSB -
Amsterdam GVB
Rotterdam RET
Charlotte LYNX
Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Denver RTD
Miami Dade County Transit
Minneapolis MetroTransit
Phoenix Valley Metro
Portland Trimet
St Louis Metro

So there you go; not impossible; which was actually the conclusion of the Greater Manchester Authorities in 2002 when they “unanimously agreed to the principle of allowing bikes on trams during non-peak hours”.

Understandably, our friends at the Friends of the Earth-run Love Your Bike campaign are not best pleased. They think that allowing bicycles to travel on off-peak trams would encourage more people to combine tram and cycle journeys for commuting, shopping and leisure, and be an effective way to reduce carbon emissions. This argument is given greater power once they point out that Greater Manchester's own transport strategy suggests that between 2 and 5 miles is a perfect cycling distance, and that around 90% of the Greater Manchester population will soon be within a 2.5 mile cycle ride of a tram (when the hugely welcome new Metrolink services are completed).

The vote on this takes place tomorrow and Love Your Bike is calling on anyone who can to urge the GMITA committee members to honour the pledge made in 2002 and vote to allow cycle carriage on off-peak cycle trams. If you fancy adding your voice, click here to send them an email.

1 comment:

  1. Amazingly as you note in your list it is possible to take a bike on a tram in Amsterdam (of all places this should be where the tram operator ought to be nervous about the demand) you do have to buy a ticket for the bike though.

    I'm not sure where the research behind the recommendations comes from but it seems to be a very different planet to that reported on by the US Transportation Research Board a long established body with a strong track (sic) record. Their, study Bikes on Transit (TCRP62) is downloadable and pages 25-31 discuss bikes on light rail with very differnt conclusions to those reported to the GMITA committee.

    The Portland (OR) MAX system is very much like Metrolink - fast routes on railway lines outside the centre and on-street running downtown - they let bikes on in 1991, with a permit system - but as the operations settled down (and over 3000 permits were issued) the permit requirement was quietly withdrawn - in 1995. This is a good model for promoting change, a small, closely managed trial which can be fine-tuned, grown and developed with a sound base of operational experience.