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17:28 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Deckchair demo wins bike ban review

cycling campaigners wait for a tram with ironing boards and deckchairs

Campaigners have forced a review of the current ban preventing bicycles being taken on trams in Manchester.

Cycle groups claim that bikes are welcome on other tram systems in Europe and they want Metrolink to follow suit.

To highlight contradictions in the current ban which includes folding bikes, protestors took deckchairs and other folding items onto a tram.

Transport leaders have now said that, while the safety of passengers remains paramount, they will look at the issue.


Pete Abel of the Love Your Bike campaign has been cycling in and out of Manchester 'for decades'.

The study into whether bikes can be taken on Metrolink trams will consider the following:

Vincent Walsh

Under current safety regulations, he's banned from boarding a Metrolink tram with his bike, or even a folding bike - unless it's in a special carrying case.

But he is allowed take on board any other large collapsible object.

Refusing to take the matter lying down, protesters turned up at a Metrolink station carrying deckchairs, ironing boards, and other folding items.

Speaking from the protest in St Peter's Square, Pete said the ban was not only unfair but discouraged people from using public transport.

"Not to allow a folding bike like this on a tram, but allow all these other items, is simply unfair."

"Ninety per cent of people live within two to three miles of a Metrolink station.

"To be able to get on a tram with your bike - whether folded or not - would allow many more people to travel that extra part of their journey.

"And that would help the city achieve its sustainable transport plans."


Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) had upheld the bike ban in January claiming that:

They also cited issues such as the impact on passenger numbers; the need to ensure cycles are secured and the increased risk of delays and increased journey times.

However, following the deckchair demo on Friday 12 February 2010, transport officials agreed to review the policy.

"Councillor Keith Whitmore, Chair of GMITA, said: "We have received a lot of representations from members of cycling groups on this matter and we have now agreed to carry out a further detailed assessment of this issue."

Councillor Richard Cowell, Manchester City Council's executive member for the environment welcomed the decision saying it was "the common sense thing to do."

"As well as setting up a working party to look at safe ways in which bikes could be taken on trams, GMITA officers are to draw up reports which will examine how this is done in other European cities and the cost implications of allowing cyclists on trams during off-peak hours."

Your comments

Well done to the campaigners who have obliged the transport planners to look at this anomaly. Many other cities have sorted this out so why not Manchester. Off peak trams should really have the capacity to carry a bike or two, but GMPTE simply wouldn't consider it. Cross fingers for the study.

- from Phil Korbel

An interesting topic at present, with one consultants report (in 2007!) for the Croydon Tramlink - a system very similar to Manchester's with converted rail lines and on-street running in the town centres - making a strong call for cycle carriage off-peak and at weekends, with a small additional fare. This would not only bring in additional passengers but also additional revenue - two details which were highlighted by a National Audit Office Report on UK light rail operations noting that they were under-performing for the capacity available and investment made. Given that there is this Croydon report on the table, and Sheffield's Tram-train may need to consider cycle carriage, it may only be a matter of time before one of the 4 systems becomes the first to run a properly monitored and managed trial of cycle carriage.

- from Dave Holladay, Glasgow

When Metrolink was opened it replaced heavy rail trains that did carry bikes, with trams that didn't - hardly integrated transport. Now South Yorkshire is trialling tram-trains, which can run on tramways as well as heavy rail lines, but the Transport Executive says that it is not going to allow bikes on the tram-trains. These vehicles could eventually replace trains on rural lines, which are popular with cyclists either commuting when it is too far to walk from their homes to the nearest railhead, as an alternative to the car, or for city folk heading out for some healthy exercise and fresh air on the weekend, again without having to clog the roads up. That's one of the reasons why establishing the principle that bikes can be carried on trams is so important.

- from Simon Geller in Sheffield


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