Bikes On The Metro
So last week I went along to a conference organised by DB Regio and Nexus - the operators of the Tyne & Wear Metro. The title was, “Improving Cycling Plans for Tyne and Wear Metro Conference 2011“, and you could be forgiven for thinking that this meant a discussion about what people with bikes would actually want on the Metro.
Currently, the rules for bikes on the Metro are:
Only folding cycles are allowed on Metro and must be fully folded whilst on Metro property.
Folded cycles that have handlebars and pedals which stick out MUST be placed in a bag while on Metro. We do not specify the type of bag however it should be robust enough to prevent handlebars and pedals causing injury to other passengers.
And if you don’t have a folding bike, then for your convenience, the Metro provides secure cycle parking lockers:
There are a number of cycle lockers at various Metro stations across the network. These are free to use (£30.00 deposit required, which is refundable when you return your locker key).
For more information contact the Metro Customer Relations team on 0191 203 3199.
Lockers are available at:
- Callerton Parkway
- East Boldon
- Four Lane Ends
- Northumberland Park
- Regent Centre
- West Monkseaton
- Whitley Bay
At the outset though, we were told that a discussion about taking bikes on the Metro was not on the agenda, because the system wasn’t designed with bikes in mind (in its current encarnation, it’s a product of the late ’70s, early ’80s, when predict-and-provide car-focused infrastructure was king. I’m just so glad that’s all behind us now). So the Metro has stations with steep stairs, short and crowded trains, and the stop duration is short.
So what was to be discussed was what great things the Metro was going to do for us:
- High quality cycle parking at all Metro stations
- By installing space for ten bikes at each. Yes - a whole TEN.
- These would be Sheffield stands
- Investigating some stations having more secure parking - compounds with swipe-card access
- Removing the existing cycle lockers
- Some local improvements - e.g. drop-down kerbs to make it easier for cyclists to get into stations
- Local signage, aimed at increasing each station’s catchment area from ~400m (walking) to two miles (cycling)
- And that’s about it.
There were presentations from Metro professionals, the project manager for Newcastle’s LSTF bid (who revealed in her Death-By-Powerpoint-Here-Are-Some-Bullet-Points-And-A-Diagram-That-You-Won’t-Understand-presentation that LSTF is now not so much about sustainable transport as growth & employment), and Sustrans’ Area Manager, James Adamson.
The Metro’s presentations were vaguely interesting - things like revealing transport as a means to an end and users will choose the path of least resistance; or that 90% of Tyneside residents would be within easy striking distance of a Metro station . . . by bike.
James’ presentation was the usual slick affair, and probably the highlight of the day as it ended with a plea that seemed to be hard for the Metro lot to ignore:
It may be a problem to take bikes on the Metro now, or then again it might not. But we don’t know for certain, since it’s never actually been tried out. So please can we try it. Oh, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem on more than half of the London Underground, which has many of the same issues as the Tyne & Wear Metro (subtext: do you really want to be beaten by That London?)
There was also some group discussion / break-out activity. The end results were:
- The Metro will look at buying a pool of folding bikes for people to try before they buy. This was suggested by Bill from the Newcastle Cycling Campaign - folding bikes tend to be expensive, so letting people try them out before committing is a good idea.
- More cycle hire options - everyone seemed positive about the idea of having Scratch Bikes at more stations.
- There WILL be a study of how bikes have been accommodated on other UK trains, trams, metro systems, etc. This will look at the problems encountered, and solutions found that could be adopted in Tyneside.