Anyone operating bus services will have received well-meaning requests from local cyclists to accommodate bikes on ordinary, regular bus services. These normally come with the arrival of spring or from 1 March (today) onwards. Replies to such correspondence always seem terribly negative but it has to be said, bikes and buses don’t (generally) mix, in spite of an initial common interest known as “sustainable transport”.
The cycle fraternity has four parts:
- The tourist, who likes to cycle one way and bus back. Leisure cyclists tend to come as families and accommodating their bikes on buses is difficult.
- The commuter, who likes to think of the bus as an insurance policy against precipitation. They rarely use a bus but come bad weather, there could be any number of them queuing.
- The mountain biker, who needs a shower before he can get his mud anywhere near any upholstery.
- The bike enthusiast, who tends to hunt in large packs. How do you accommodate 30 cycles on an Optare Solo?
- Rear cycle racks – modern interlocks mean that a bike can be stowed relatively safely on the bus’ rear. But generally, there’s space for only two. What happens if there are more? Should an operator introduce a booking system? Doesn’t such a system detract from the immediacy of travel? Should the cyclist pay a fare commensurate to the administration costs of booking? But most importantly, is it safe to load a bike at a lay by-less stop, on the side of the road, or busy reverse-out bus station?
- Front cycle racks – do not confirm to the UK’s C&U regs, so are ruled out. The same issues apply, added to which there is a more acute danger to pedestrians in the event of a front-end collision.
- Internal stowage – gone are the days when you can get 52 passengers on an 11m bus. Any cycle pen (for perhaps two cycles) would relieve passengers of at least six seats, reducing the capacity on today’s 11m bus to 30 or less. Then, there are issues of scuffing, dirt and soiling.
- Trailers – don’t even go there!
So there’s the answer – convert every route to double deck and make sure everyone, including elderly passengers, moves upstairs.
No, bikes and buses don’t mix.
But may be there should be secure bike parking at major bus stops and stations...