cycling tram tram train

Bicycles not part of the Sheffield tram train trial (and the ridiculous reasons used to justify this)

Sheffield is embarking on a national pilot for running light rail trams on traditional heavy rail train track. The transport authority in charge have today confirmed that tram trains will not carry bicycles at any time.

The knowledge that we obtain from the pilot will enable us to understand the technical and operational challenges involved in this project so that the concept can potentially be rolled out elsewhere in the UK – Norman Baker – May 2012


By setting the precedent that bicycles will not be carried without even attempting to do so, this trial will condemn future projects around the UK to the same fate. The precedent has been set as part of the national trial, bicycles will not be carried on tram trains. I would be very surprised if tram trains don’t start to displace normal trains on some routes.

Here are the key recommendations of the report to be discussed at Thursday’s Integrated Transport Meeting

2.1 That the ITA supports the recommendation of Option 1 as the design to be taken forward for the manufacture of the Tram/Train vehicle.
2.2 In order to provide the optimal position for the priority seating and due to the limitations of the vehicle structural design and legal obligations Option 1 does not include facilities for the carriage of bicycles (other than folding bike). ITA are therefore also asked to endorse that bicycles shall not be carried on Tram/Train vehicles, unless of the folding type.

SYPTE did some research which shows that of the UK/European tram networks they could get data for, 42 tram networks allow bicycles and 10 do not (of which 6 are in the UK!)

I’ll try to summarise the reasons this decision has been made, the full document is available from here. These get more and more ridiculous as you go down the list!

  • Legal requirements under the equality act
  • Must have at least 2 wheelchair spaces under Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2010
  • Must be no obstruction to prevent or cause unreasonable difficulty to a wheelchair being manoeuvred in a rail vehicle to, from, into or out of any wheelchair compatible doorway or wheelchair space
  • No fittings for the use of passengers other than disabled persons in wheelchairs are allowed in the wheelchair spaces. This prohibits the use of some form of bicycle storage or securing system
  • It’s actually Stagecoach Supertram’s decision to make
  • Existing tramway Bylaws and Condition of Carriage prohibit the carriage of bicycles (but they admit that these could be changed)
  • The carriage of bicycles on the exterior of the vehicle wouldn’t be possible for a number of reasons(length, time taken to add and remove racks, need access to train track to put bike on and off, footholds for ‘tram surfers’, similar design to bull bars which are illegal)
  • Allowing bicycles would increase competition for low floor space with wheelchairs, mobility scooters, luggage, prams, and standing people.
  • People tend to sit in the fold out seat area and would be forced to go to the middle of the tram and negotiate steps which some may not want to or be able to do
  • People like to stand in the doorway and would be inconvenienced by having to relocate to other parts of the tram
  • Carriage of bicycles would compound issues of dissatisfaction with availability of seats at peak times
  • Not all vehicles would be of the new tram/train type, cyclists may try to use existing vehicles which they’re not allowed to and get confused
  • We need policies to deal with bicycles which would create conflict, and our Conductors primary role is to collect revenue and not act in any safety capacity
  • The management of bicycles on tram stops would need to be managed to avoid accidents to waiting passengers and those boarding and alighting
  • There are heavy rail trains running the same route that will carry bicycles that provide an alternative for those wishing to take bicycles
  • Bicycle hire like Bike&Go is available at Rotherham Central Station
  • Cycle lanes and large lengths of segregated routes are already provided between Rotherham and Sheffield
  • The trial of bikes on DLR in London has been financially supported by TfL, this is beyond SYPTE in it’s current financial situation
  • Trams often need to brake because they encounter pedestrians, this increases the risk of unsecured bicycles becoming projectiles
  • Other passengers might get dirty from bicycles
  • The tram/train vehicle might get dirty from bicycles
  • Bicycles introduce objects that are potentially hazardous to passengers, eg sharp points such as handlebars and pedals.

5 replies on “Bicycles not part of the Sheffield tram train trial (and the ridiculous reasons used to justify this)”

Some of their reasons are blatantly incorrect.
For instance it is a closed track system, there will be no need for the tram/train to brake suddenly, it’s running on normal rail tracks inaccessible to the public. They’ve misunderstood this part in their report.

You would have thought in a trial, you’d try things to see what works & what doesn’t. Perhaps banning bikes at peak times and/or having a hierarchy of user for the low floor space with wheelchairs at the top & bikes just above able bodied people wishing to stand/sit in space at the bottom.

Looking at the reasons given three stand out as being their genuine reasons:
– our Conductors primary role is to collect revenue and not act in any safety capacity
– Other passengers might get dirty from bicycles
– The tram/train vehicle might get dirty from bicycles
still not proper reasons mind, but enough for them to put it in the ‘too hard tray’ and seek other reasons not to carry them.

Exactly, we should at least try it out to see if it works or not. A trial is the perfect time to do this.
Most of their reasons are bogus, they get more and more ridiculous as you go through the document. It’s as if they’ve sat in a room brainstorming all the reasons they don’t wan’t bicycles on the tram.

Utterly ridiculous! This implies cyclists are imbeciles! Offended to say the least! And if dlr can make a success of it, then this is simply a case of bureaucracy because they can!

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