Cyclists often complain that they would like to be able to take their bicycles with them when they travel by public transport so that having arrived at their destination they can complete their journey on two wheels.

Note that this topic primarily applies to large pedal bicycles on buses, as the small fold-a-way bicycles are a less contentious issue and can usually be carried as hand luggage.

In Britain the attitudes held by many transport operators seems to be:-

  1. Since bicycles are already a mode of transport it is crazy to want to convey them on another mode of transport...
  2. Whereas other "people with special needs" have no choice when they leave home whether to take their "special needs" with them cyclists are not a mobility-impaired disadvantaged group - indeed the physical exertion of cycling often makes them the fittest, most agile people in society.
  3. If asked to pay a special cycle fare the cyclists would complain most vociferously, yet too often do not appreciate how large cycles take up space which could be used by 3-4 standing fare paying passengers.
  4. Cycles usually have dirty tyres, oily chains, etc which can cause soiling damage to internal furnishings and other passengers' clothing.
  5. Internally public transport vehicles (buses, trains, trams, etc., etc.,) are designed to minimise obstructions and sharp edges that could injure passengers in the event of a sudden emergency stop or other manoeuver under which conditions cycles (and standing passengers) could end up flying about within the passenger compartment. Cyclists may claim that they will hold their bikes, but sometimes this will not be sufficient to ensure safety.
  6. As it is not a legal obligation very few cyclists bother with obtaining insurance - even 3rd party - and in the event of an incident it is probable that they and other passengers would be seeking compensation from the transport operators' insurers, which would affect premiums, operating costs and ultimately fares.
  7. Some transport operators complain that cyclists tend to obstruct doorways and also berate the time it takes them to board / alight public transport vehicles - especially when crowded - although in reality it is likely that they are no slower than any of the real "special needs" groups - ie: parents with pushchairs and people who use wheelchairs.
  8. The widespread reduction in road speed limits (to 20mph / 30km/h) which is being done as a result of vociferous lobbying by pro-cycling advocacy groups who claim that this will make cycling on roads safer also means that the slower bus and tram journeys will result in it being faster for cyclists to cycle the whole way. Many of the other passengers who fully understand the issues will also resent the fact that their journeys have been made slower and longer just to please the small minority who have their own two-wheeled transports.
  9. Another reason why cycling can be faster than travelling by public transport is that many cyclists are able to cycle at a speed that is higher than the 20mph / 30km/h limit which they have campaigned to see introduced for all road users. Although in theory the speed limit also applies to cyclists the reality is that since bicycles do not have speedometers it is not possible for the cyclists to actually know how fast they are travelling. In addition, as cyclists do not need driving licences they cannot be issued with penalty points if caught speeding. This also frees them from the "totting-up" procedure whereby 12 penalty points usually results in a summons to a court of law so that the usual automatic driving ban can be imposed upon the errant road user.

Whilst many non-cycling passengers would tend to agree with these objections - especially point lV - it is not surprising that those people who like to travel by pedal bike will disagree - and suggest (amongst other things) that cycling is the most practical form of environmentally neutral personal transport available and in line with (supposed) government policy for both reduced air pollution and personal health / fitness it should be encouraged; plus that mixed mode journeys are desirable because they increase the range (distance) of viable cycle journeys - especially to areas poorly served by public transports - and therefore will lead to an overall increase in transport patronage.


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This page last updated 31st December 2016.
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