April Fool: Bikes Are Not Allowed On The Metro
The Tyne & Wear Metro doesn’t allow bikes. Apparently non-folding bikes are uniquely dangerous, although the Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Authority can’t supply their risk assessments that led them to this conclusion. And despite years of lobbying, the Metro’s operator, Nexus won’t consider even a limited trial either.
So in response to this “Metro knows best” attitude, we decided to take some luggage on the Metro. According to the Tyne & Wear Metro’s Conditions of Carriage, you’re allowed:
You may, at the discretion of staff, take with you the following items provided they do not cause an obstruction, and are not put on seats:
- personal luggage
- pushchairs and buggies
- folded bicycles
- any other item provided that it is not dangerous or likely to injure anyone
You may not take:
- unfolded bicycles
- any item that is more than 2 metres long
- hazardous or inflammable substances
- any item which you are unable to carry yourself (including up and down stairways and escalators)
So we built a sculpture from plywood that’s in the shape of a bicycle - seen here before it was painted (it’s the one on the left). It’s less than 2m long, I can carry it myself, and critically, it’s not a bike:
As it was 1st April, we then tried to get this onto the Metro, having set ourselves some rules:
- Immediately obey all instructions from Metro staff, whether over the PA or in person. No argument - these people have jobs to do.
- Not to cause an obstruction with the fake bike.
- Not to try & smuggle it on the train - hence the “Look! I’m a CYCLIST” outfit.
- Not to try getting it onto a train if the train was already full. If there was no room, we’d only upset other passengers, and we didn’t want to do that.
- To make sure the fake bike was safe for people to be around. I spent a long time sanding off all the sharp edges & splinters.
Here’s what happened:
And here are some photos - as you can see, rather than being discreet about it, I got dressed up as a Proper Cyclist:
I bought a ticket for me and my item of luggage:
And we even got directions to the right platform from the Metro’s helpful staff:
Ultimately we failed. I got asked to leave the Monument Metro Station by an announcement over the PA system, and although I managed to board a train at Central Station, the driver asked me to get off within 20 seconds of taking my seat.
The funny thing is, we got the Not A Bike into Newcastle… by taking the Metro:
So here’s my advice for anyone who wants to take a bike on the Tyne & Wear Metro (for example, anyone who’s just finished the C2C & wants to get a train home from Newcastle):
- Take the wheels off your bike
- Wrap it in a dust sheet
- it’ll keep the mucky, greasy bits of your bike away from other passengers
- this is nice thin, lightweight material
- a 3m x 2m sheet takes up hardly any room in your luggage & weighs next to nothing
- Be discreet. When the train arrives, stand in front of your bike and then amble onto the train with the crowd.