Sunday, 24 January 2010

Integrated Transport Authority ? You're having a laugh!

On Friday 15th January, the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) Capital Projects committee voted to continue the ban on any bicycles travelling on off-peak Metrolink tram services.

The recommendation for the ban was included in the "Implications of the Carriage of Bicycles on Trams" report submitted by Metrolink Director, Philip Purdy. This was supposedly a summation of the similarily entitled report by consultants Mott MacDonald, submitted to GMPTE in April 2009. GMPTE failed to respond to two seperate Freedom of Information Act requests made by local campaigners in September/October 2009 and a copy of the consultants report was not made publicly available until 3 hours after the GMITA committee had voted! Which seems a very strange way of upholding the claim GMPTE "consults the public and other stakeholders to improve public transport in Greater Manchester."  Even stranger was that even the Committee members did not seem to have been given a copy of the consultants report prior to the meeting.

The committee voted 7~5 to endorse the following recommendation:
"a) Members are asked to endorse the decision to continue with the current policy to forbid the carriage of bicycles on trams with the exception of folding cycles which should be fully encased."

Now, the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Strategy claims it wants to encourage more trips to be made by bicycle and it considers that 2 to 5 miles is an ideal cycling distance. The GMPTE website states that: “we will continue to adopt a fully integrated approach to influencing travel behaviour with a range of measures to encourage more of the large number of shorter trips to be undertaken by bike or on foot rather than by the private car.”

Manchester's Love Your Bike campaigners have estimated that approximately 90% of the Greater Manchester population will be within a 2.5 mile cycle ride of a tram station when the new Metrolink services are completed. An ideal distance to encourage people to "integrate" a cycle and tram journey and yet the current Metrolink cycle carriage policy even bans the carriage of a folded Brompton bicycle (dimensions are only 58.5cm high x 54.5cm long x 27cm wide) unless it is fully encased.

Compare this with the dimensions of a typical double buggy pram which even when folded are much bigger at 104cm high x 39.5cm long x 74cm wide (See this example).  People can travel on all tram services with an unfolded double pram buggy. It would also appear to be permissible to attempt to travel on all tram services with golf caddys, a double bass (cased), skis and a wide range of other bulky and heavy items.

One group of cyclists that are inconvenienced by the GMPTE's continuing hostile attitude to integrating tram and cycle journeys are the St John's Ambulance - bicycle ambulance volunteers.  Based in Altrincham they regularly have to travel to Heaton Park to provide volunteer first aid services for a range of events. If they were allowed to take their bicycle ambulances on tram services then it would be a good example of an "integrated" transport system: Cycle to Altrincham tram stop, travel to Heaton Park tram stop and then cycle into and around the park.  Because of the current bike ban they need to hire a truck to transport their bicycle ambulances to Heaton Park!

Perhaps the full GMITA committee meeting on 12th February may wish to ponder the meaning of the word "integrated".

The non-magnificent 7 councillors included 3 Conservatives and 4 Liberal Democrats. If you think people should be able to combine a tram journey with a folded Brompton (not fully encased!) at any time or maybe even take their bike on a tram (off peak) for example on a Sunday morning to get easier access to the countryside then please do send a (polite) message to one (or more) of them.

Dylan Butt (Trafford - Hale Barns)     (
Ian Macdonald (Salford - Worsley)   (
Michael Winstanley (Wigan - Orrell) (

Liberal Democrats
Richard Knowles  - Chair (Oldham - Saddleworth South)  (
David Sandiford (Manchester - Didsbury East)   (
David White (Stockport - Davenport & Cale Green) (
Craig Wright (Stockport - Marple North)   (

The 5 Labour group committee members argued against the ban and voted for a deferment. They then voted against the ban. These were:
Jim Dawson (Salford - Swinton North)  (
Andrew Fender (Manchester - Old Moat) (
Peter Scott  (Stockport - Reddish North)  (
Eunice Smethurst (Wigan - Abram)    (
Alan Whitehead (Tameside)                (c/o

See also this MEN article GMPTE's 'dirty tricks' over bike ban on trams

and also David Ottewell's blog:  Metrolink bike ban ‘disgraceful’

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