Row over bikes on trams

Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development
Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development

A Sheffield councillor challenged South Yorkshire Transport Executive over a decision to ban bicycles on trams.

Currently only folding bikes are allowed on trams and Stagecoach Supertram have previously said carrying bikes on board could lead to ‘access issues’ and that 'safety concerns outnumbered the benefits'.

Supertram in Sheffield

Supertram in Sheffield

Elsewhere in the country bikes are allowed to be carried on trams including Newcastle, Manchester and Edinburgh.

The issue came up during an economic and environmental wellbeing scrutiny committee meeting, in which Ben Gilligan, director of public transport, SYPTE, argued allowing bikes on the city’s trams would be 'dangerous'.

He said: “Cycles on trams is an issue that has been debated fairly substantially before, the fundamental issue of bicycles on trams is if Stagecoach Supertram allowed bikes on trams it would be dangerous and it would not be compliant with the operating guidance as there is no way of safely storing them on the trams, which has been decided on a number of times.”

He said part of the work with the new trams is to look at the feasibility of the existing trams in Sheffield for bikes, which he said found it ‘unsafe’.

South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis in Sheffield

South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis in Sheffield

Labour Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development, said: “I would like to reiterate our position, which is supported by Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis, there should at least be a trial for cycles on trams.

“My understanding is when we bought the trams they came with harnesses and equipment for safe transport of bicycles, which in Sheffield and South Yorkshire was then removed so we think it is worth considering. It works in places like Manchester so there is no reason why it shouldn’t work here.”

Dexter Johnstone, of Cycle Sheffield, said there was a trial in 2009 for bikes on trams which passed ‘without danger’.

He said: “As long as there is room on the tram then there is no genuine reason why bikes cannot be taken on board. This happens on other light rail networks in the UK, for example the Newcastle Metro, and in other countries. Obviously in busy periods such as rush hour it wouldn't possible or reasonable to take a bike on board and we have no issue with that.”

The 'bikes on tram' trial in Sheffield in 2009, Cycle Sheffield said there was clearly no danger

The 'bikes on tram' trial in Sheffield in 2009, Cycle Sheffield said there was clearly no danger

“Ben Gilligan is talking complete nonsense. Taking bikes on Sheffield Supertrams has been trialled in the past, on Sundays, and these trials passed off without any problems or incidents.”

Earlier this year South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis said he ‘didn’t understand’ why there was Stagecoach Supertram had the rule in place.

He said: “I personally don't get why this is the case when you can do that when you are in other parts of the country.

"To some people it may seem like a small issue but as part of my wider commitment to active travel I will raising my concerns and asking questions about why it is that in other parts of the country people can take their bike onto the tram but you can't do that here.

"I'll be expecting a very good reason why you can’t do that and if there isn't, I expect a change of policy."

Mr Gilligan said it was unlikely that bikes will be allowed on Sheffield trams before 2024.