Calls to allow bikes on board South Yorkshire’s new tram trains are set to be rejected – despite the campaign having high-profile support.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive has been accused of ‘going backwards’ on promoting integrated transport – at the same time as cycling is set for a huge boost with the coming of the Tour de France Grand Départ next year.
Transport officials designing the specification for the four tram trains, which will run between Sheffield, Rotherham and Parkgate, say space should not be set aside for bicycles in low-floor areas of the vehicles, because it is needed for wheelchairs, buggies and seating for old and infirm.
Meanwhile, having bikes in raised areas of the tram trains would cause a ‘safety risk’ as they are carried through from the doors, the PTE said.
In a report to councillors who oversee South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, officials say that Supertram operator Stagecoach is unhappy with the ‘safety risks’.
There is also concern about dirty wheels soiling clothing or the interior of trams and ‘risk of conflict’ between cyclists and other passengers.
The overall decision on whether to allow bikes will rest with Stagecoach as operator.
But Sheffield Central Labour MP Paul Blomfield said he believes the PTE and transport firm should think again and allow bikes – as they are carried on trains when there is less room than existing trams.
He said: “It’s a disappointing report. Being able to take bikes on to trams is the norm throughout Europe and I regularly see bikes on the London underground.
“There is no reason why we cannot enable tram trains to be able to do the same.
“If not, there is a real risk we will be moving backwards in the promotion of cycling as part of an integrated transport strategy.”
Cycling enthusiast Russell Cutts, from Norwood, who runs Russell’s Bicycle Shed, added: “I am disappointed – there should at least be a trial to see how it works.
“Stagecoach let bicycle users on board to go to Rother Valley Park on Sundays, which proved successful.
“If those in charge want an integrated transport network, there will have to be some space sharing.”
‘Increased risk’ from bicycles carried aboard
■ Increased risk of damage and soiling to passengers’ clothing and the vehicle, according to South Yorkshire PTE’s report.
■ Application of the brake can throw passengers around. There is risk of cycles becoming a projectile.
■ Introduction of a bicycle introduces objects that are potentially hazardous to passengers, including sharp points such as handlebars and pedals.
■ Using areas with tip-up seats as bike space could cause ‘conflict’ between passengers wanting to sit down and cyclists.
■ Confusion could be caused by cyclists trying to board Supertram vehicles if allowed on tram trains.
■ Rail operator Northern will still provide transport for bikes between Sheffield and Rotherham.
■ Low-floor areas would be ‘constrained’ and the space should be prioritised towards wheelchairs, buggies and elderly people.