April 2015

Bikes on Trams – a UK First

[June 30 updateBikes on Trams now permanent]
[May 27 update – bike trial continues in June]

Bikes will be carried on off-peak regular tram services in Edinburgh in May – a UK first for Edinburgh Council and for Edinburgh Trams!!

Whilst bike carriage is commonplace in many European and US systems, Edinburgh is the first to work through the host of safety regulations and, perhaps, prejudices, which have plagued campaigns for bike carriage in other UK cities.

The Edinburgh initiative is a one-month trial, which we hope will become permanent if the trial runs smoothly, and which other UK cities and cycle campaign groups – such as Manchester and Sheffield – will be following closely.   A few systems [e.g. Sheffield] have carried bikes on special services [e.g. a tram/bike ride to the countryside] or special occasions, but none has agreed to regular carriage on regular services.

The rules

The trial runs throughout May in off-peak hours, i.e. all services except weekdays 7.30-9.30am and 16.00-18.30pm.   Bikes must enter by the centre doors [marked on the platform by the disabled logo] and must be held by the passenger throughout the journey.  The full list of rules and conditions is below.

We urge everyone who uses this trial to be considerate and careful.   Remember that this is new to the tram staff and other passengers, and the tram operators will rightly be monitoring the experiment carefully.  Most importantly, remember this will set a precedent for the whole UK.  If the tram staff ask you to wait for the next tram, please do so without argument at the time   If you think some rule or action by the staff is unreasonable, keep cool, follow their request, and email the problem to Edinburgh Trams later.

The background

This trial would never have happened without extensive lobbying by Spokes over a 4-5 year period in the first decade of the 2000s, backed up by continuing emails to councillors from individual members of the public (and some letters in those days!) including much evidence collected from Europe and the US.  More than once the principle was agreed, but then some change such as an election or a change in tram management put the whole thing into doubt yet again.

Only when the Council’s 2014-2019 Local Transport Strategy – which specified bike carriage – was approved did the principle become almost sealed in stone.  Albeit even the LTS can be ‘modified’ as in the Council’s current proposal to de-enhance bus lanes by making them all peak-only.  We also thank Transport Convener Cllr Lesley Hinds who actively pushed forward on the LTS bike carriage commitment when the timescale started to slacken.

Of course bike carriage is only one tram issue affecting cyclists.   Whilst we had a big success here (assuming the trial is made permanent) we had a much bigger failure when trying to influence the initial layout of the tram tracks – otherwise a significant proportion of the tramline crashes we have seen could [in our view] have been avoided.

What you can do

  • If you have queries or comments, or feedback once the trial begins, please contact Edinburgh Trams.   Spokes would appreciate a copy of any significant points.
  • We will be tweeting this story from @SpokesLothian.  Please retweet this tweet.

More Information

Edinburgh Trams news story 25.4.15
Evening News story 25.4.15
Spokes tram web page
Spokes news stories relating to trams
Our tweet

Full rules for the trial

[extracted from the above Edinburgh Trams news story]

  • On board staff retain the discretion to prevent cyclists from boarding with bikes if they deem a tram to be too busy.
  • Passengers must stay with their bikes throughout the journey, holding them in order to ensure they don’t move during transit.
  • Cyclists should position themselves at the centre section (marked on platform by a disabled logo tile) of the tram and take guidance from on-board staff.
  • Only two bikes will be allowed on each tram and in the specified locations on board during the trial.
  • Passengers with disabilities or those with prams or buggies are to take priority with regards to space.



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