Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bikes and trains

The ban on bikes on peak-hour trains – both metropolitan and country – by the Victorian government is stupid.

Instead of supporting commuters' travel options that keep cars off the road, and instead of putting on more carriages and trains to deal with overcrowding, the government is using smoke and mirrors to shift the blame for overcrowding onto those who take their bikes on trains.

The anger amongst cyclists who both ride trains and cycle to work or school is powerful, but, unfortunately, the State government and private train operator Connex are counting on the train commuters' antipathy against cyclists to back them up. As Barista so aptly points out:
cyclists are actively discouraged from putting treadlies on the train in peak hour. After all, they are awkward, and take up space. Other commuters get a chance to roll their eyes, act sniffy and indulge in righteousness - a piece of pack behaviour all too familiar to cyclists, dog owners, breast feeding women, owners of young children and backpackers (no hierarchy implied in the order)
But there has been an uproar – regional and country residents can still exert some influence as long as the Labor government needs their votes. VLine, the country rail operator, backed down slightly and have delayed the ban till 1 February. They've as much as hinted that it is up to Transport Minister Lyn Kosky to revoke the ban – and cyclists to convince her to do so. It is worth noting that
The ban on bikes on V/Line services during rush hour comes despite the trains having special bike spaces. The V'Locity trains have space for a small number of bicycles, while its 32 locomotives have a special luggage carriage, with ample room for cycles.
If anything, the bike ban is further evidence of Premier John Brumby’s reputed lack of commitment to environmental concerns or principles – first approving the Bay dredging, then putting the kibosh on the car free day for Melbourne, now a ban on bikes on peak-hour trains!

I was not convinced that Lyn Kosky was committed to making public transport work for all of us when she was appointed transport minister after the post-Bracks reshuffle. This new move suggests we have further reason to be disappointed in her.

Cities and provincial or state governments elsewhere are making huge efforts at increasing sustainable transport options to counter congestion, pollution and global warming. Many cities, especially in Europe, have car free days and, as I saw in Brisbane during my trip last Easter, Brisbane transit buses have bike carriers that allow cyclists to throw their bikes onto buses to get around further – especially on Brisbane's killer hills.

Compared with efforts made elsewhere, this economic-growth obsessed Labor state government is too short-sighted and clueless when it comes to enabling our cities and communities to be truly sustainable – and reducing the pollution risk to people.

Well, there is a campaign brewing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next critical mass heads for a peak hour train. And, to support more sustainable transport options, not fewer, I would be sympathetic to them!

Ironically, while Bicycle Victoria, supposedly the cyclists' lobby, supports the ban, the Public Transport Users' Group opposes it – because they know it will do little to deal with overcrowding! I'm having second thoughts on joining Bicycle Victoria this year.

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At January 08, 2008 1:47 pm, Blogger cfsmtb said...

They haven't delayed it, the 'reprieve' is spin doctoring. There was originally a grace period of a month mentioned back in mid-December.

This V/Line ‘reprieve’ is simply because the changes haven’t been sorted out yet by the government! Read a pdf interpretation here:


Even hardened spin doctors would consider todays statement by Kosky to be rather amateurist. The public isn't that stupid.

At January 08, 2008 10:36 pm, Blogger pfctdayelise said...

Thoughtful post, Mark. The photo of the Brisbane bus is particularly awesome.

At January 16, 2008 5:09 am, Blogger Gary said...

Many communities share the same issues. Cleveland, Ohio recently got rid of rules that kept cyclists off of trains during rush hour.


At first cyclists couldn't take bikes on trains durning a two hour period in the morning and evening, then the period was reduced to 1 hour. Thankfully it has been eliminated!

At August 30, 2011 3:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is nice to share that Designed to bear the extra weight of long-distance loaded touring but also makes a decent bike for casual road riding when you are not carrying a load. Bikes Brisbane


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