Bikes and trains….a marriage that should be made in heaven.

2015-02-19 15.13.01

I spotted this sign from the window of the train on my return from the London bike show. It informs commuters at Bristol Parkway the correct protocol for loading a bike on the train in no uncertain terms (for ‘commuters’ please read as ‘customers’, a fact all too often forgotten). Now I’ve used my bike on the train many, many times. It’s painful. Pre-book your ticket for a space (there is no-one to check if anyone has booked their place), queue with a stack of other cycle commuters (who may or may not have booked), then join the scrum to try and get your bike in. Hopefully, when you’ve traveled the nervous 140 odd miles to London, you’ll find out if your bike is still there, or whether it’s been removed by an opportunist at one of the 4 stations in between. It is why I bought a folding bike (pictured below – so I guess I have this lack of thought by the rail operators to thank for one of my better investments).

Pint sized

If only there was a nice easy way to get bikes on trains? If only there was a nice simple solution that would encourage people to enter into the world of multi-modal transport arrangements? If only there was a previous precedent we could follow? If only?…..if only……..if only………

Anyway…..while we ponder this design conundrum, please enjoy this lovely piece of 1950s footage depicting cyclists loading bikes onto…….trains. At a time when the population of Britain was around 15 million people less, the roads flowed freely and commuting problems were largely restricted to finding a seat on the bus, British Rail  offered these splendid carriages with bike hooks. In 2015, with high speed engines zipping across continents and people booking their travel by smart phone, would it really be that difficult to tow a decent sized cargo carriage?

Come on train companies……think of all the possibilities……..all those people that drive because the train doesn’t quite do the job…….all those cycle tourists who might like to visit Blighty on their bikes……..all the efficiency savings from lack of hassle on the platform……..fuller trains because the pool of customers has deepened……Let’s go back to the future please……..

BTF3 train

7 replies »

  1. When did they get rid of the Goods Van, or caged area in one of the carriages? When they went denationalised I bet! Squeeze more passengers on!

  2. There’s no train in my city. Not anymore. We had railway system but it was way,way back. And in the capital city, trains are always busy so I don’t think it’s a walk in the park riding a train with your bike. I’m even having a hard time riding a bus when I do long distance rides and have bike problems.

  3. ….so I can see! In design thinking there is such a thing as ‘user-centred design’. I wonder why it hasn’t been applied in your examples? That looks like a design that was always destined to be unsuitable for all.

  4. Joined up networks would be nice. In fact even one network that worked would be great.
    During engineering works anyone who has the temerity to turn up at a station with a pram/cycle/luggage is told to get lost.

    “We are sorry that bulky luggage, cycles and prams cannot be carried on the replacement bus services.”

    Oh, that’s fine, I’ll travel tomorrow, or Monday, whenever’s convenient for you.

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