Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Cycling City - Police Haul Cyclist Off Train

The 'Better by Bike' message of Bristol's Cycling City project doesn't seem to be filtering through to the British Transport Police or railway staff. The email message below was sent today, recording an extraordinary incident at Temple Meads when a cyclist, one of four who had boarded a train with four bicycle spaces, was hauled off by police in riot gear and 'held' in the British Transport Police office (which sounds like being 'arrested' to me). I'll say no more but let you judge for yourselves from this account.
"Recently my son had a very unnerving experience at Temple Meads.
He has a part-time lecturing job in Cheltenham, so regularly travels there from Bristol. He goes by train, taking his bike to use at each end of the journey. However this is a gamble as he cannot rely on there being a space on any train for his bike. Bike tickets are issued, but with no guarantee about being able to take the bike on the train it is booked on.

Last month a "rule" was brought in that there could not be more than 3 bikes on any train, even if there were more than 3 bike racks. This is apparently so the provision will be the same on all trains, and the newer trains only have 3 racks.

The train he and his bike were booked on had 4 bike racks, and fortuitously 4 cyclists wishing to travel. However jobs-worth rail staff insisted that one person leave the train. This was obviously nonsense (with no flexibility for a new rule), and it was not clear how it could be decided who had to unlock their bike and leave. All refused, including a woman who became very upset. My son had an important day ahead with external examiners coming to his college, so felt it was impossible to wait for a later train. When he tried to have a (reasonable) discussion with the staff, their response was to call the railway police. 4 police arrived in riot gear, grabbed hold of my son, and held him in their office. He was told he was lucky not to be arrested (so what the justification for his treatment was is unknown).

So this is how the station responds to customer care issues, and the need for transport links to avoid car use. Brilliant."

Meanwhile in a parallel universe....


......where there's a will there's a way.

12 comments:

Acesabe said...

Cyclists get from a to b for free*, so there is no profit for First/other PT operator (are ther any?) in prioritizing space for cyclists, so as far as they are concerned we can just f**k off and get the bus/drive/walk/die!
I wouldn't be surprised if we started seeing 'critical mass' type events happening at stations soon...

*of course a bike and associated running costs aren't free - just the cycling bit

elizabeth said...

Yes, it has been an unpleasant game of chance travelling by train with a pre-booked bike for some years now. The threats by rude and bullying "train managers" - usually female - to put one's bike off at the next station, the piles of luggage or bags of rubbish in the tiny space supposedly reserved for bikes, the struggle, especially for women and children to lift their pre-booked bikes on to the right bit of the train and get back to their pre-booked seats in time - all will be miserably familiar to the travelling bicyclist. When the subject is taken up with the train company, the breathtaking answer is: Surveys show customers (ugh) would rather have more seats than spaces for bikes. Well of course they would if that is how the question is phrased. Only in Scotland with its much smaller population can one be sure of a welcome and a helping hand.

Holly said...

What an outrageous and disgusting example of our pathetic transport infrastructure which seeks profit over any kind of real service. Is Critical Mass still going in Bristol? Be great to hold an event at Temple Meads.

Andy in Budapest said...

Another example of Britain's civil infrastructure being run by uneducated automatons that can't think for themselves and don't know what common sense and justice is.
So glad I left that country.

McD said...

In my experience this is not a national issue and therefore there is hope. We travelled by train up to the Lake District and on the Settle Carlisle line and the subsequent Northern Rail link to Whitehaven the train staff did their utmost to accommodate far more bikes than there was provision for. It seems to be down to the individual train companies and possibly whether we are talking commuting or leisure travel. I suggest that Bristol Council get involved in sorting out this local issue with our beloved local train operators.

Liam FitzPatrick said...

I had a funny experience in France the other week taking my unpacked bike unauthorised on a local train. The guard came and told me off and then noticed an attractive young woman further down the carriage...so he stopped berating me and when to chat her up!

When he came back I was able to tease him for being so shallow at which he laughed and let me complete the journey 'against the rules'.

Vive le sterotype nationale!

Liam

SMB tech geeks said...

This sort of thing really makes your blood boil doesn't it?!

Considering how apathetic much of the UK is to thought of cycling in the first place, this type of aggresion towards cyclists really cannot be considered helpful in encouraging more of us to get on our bikes & go green!

Cap'n said...

back in the early days of cyclebag in the eighties i was always able to take my bicycle on the train!!!
so this is progress

Adam said...

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/07/copenhagen-bike-life-while.html

Westsider said...

I would day their are grounds for complaint there - and to sue - seems like no offence was being committed - being held may count as false omprisonment - eevn if your complaint fails it msy moderate their behaviour in the future.

user said...

ok

steve said...

The exact same thing happened to me two years ago at BTM. The Police removed me (and my bike) from an EMPTY train (I was polite throughout, I just refused - quite reasonably I thought - to get off an empty train!)

I complained, but not enough, as this sounds even worse. It's not acceptable. Get in touch if you want help etc with your complaint!