Sunday, 12 October 2008

Bikes on trains & tubes

Just read an interesting article on the BBC News website which was posted in May 2008 on how commuters are beginning to get angry about folding bikes on trains.


So far I haven’t had much difficulty with the Brompton. I always say excuse me or sorry if I bump into someone and generally I have found people are very helpful. I think this is because I am a woman and not wearing the Lycra uniform. I look just like everyone else but I am carry a bike which is smaller than most suitcases.

The tricky bit is getting off and on the train and the worse time is the mornings. It is hit and miss as to whether I can get to the luggage rack on the new style trains. Sometimes I make it but someone is already sitting in the top section. I then just ask if I can park the bike underneath which involves them moving their legs. Trouble with this is that I when I need to get off I have to get the bike out and then manoeuvre to the door without knocking into anyone. Lots of ‘sorrys’ and ‘excuse me’ are involved. I also opt for a carriage 2/3 down rather than the front. By the time I have partly unfolded the Brompton the crowd has passed on the platform I am at the back and out of the way.

I go home from Charing Cross and I just need to make sure that I am on the platform before the train comes in and this way I will get a seat and be able to park the bike out of the way. I could get on at London Bridge but this means that I will be standing for most of the journey home.

Going by tube involves other strategies. The only time I am guaranteed a seat is between Kings Cross and Seven Sisters where the train is either empty has very few people. The Brompton is small enough to tuck beside my feet and I opt for a seat by the doors. When I travelled completely by tube starting from North Greenwich this was a nightmare. It involved a struggle to get on the train, a struggle to get space and a struggle to get off at Green Park to change for the Victoria Line. Lots of stairs. I did this trip back in the early days when I just got the bike and I was tired, sore and thought I would have a heart attack.

Although I have the same right to travel on a train it is about consideration to non-bike commuters because they don’t have the option of cycling and in the end I want to convert a few to using a bike.

On the platform at Seven Sisters