Thursday, 14 January 2010

Metrolink - (not) leading the way to an integrated sustainable transport system

Cyclists on the Way. Bike & Ride is no empty promise, but a comprehensive offer for all friends of cycling. For example you'll get a detailed map which shows you which stations are equipped with bicycle parking space. You'll also find information about how to best transport your bicycle in our vehicles."

Considering all the discussion about the need to develop a sustainable transport system in Greater Manchester to help reduce congestion, C02 emissions, improve air quality and encourage people to make Smarter Choices - make more journeys by public transport, cycling or walking -  you would hope that the Bike & Ride quote above was the new Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority's policy on allowing bicycles to travel on Metrolink trams . Unfortunately, you may be very dissapointed.

On Friday 15th January the GMITA Capital Projects committee members are being asked to vote on two recommendations contained in Agenda Item 8. The Implications of the Carriage of Bicycles on Trams.

1) 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.

2) Members are also asked to endorse that GMPTE should continue to provide investment for cycle facilities on the Metrolink network, rail stations and in any future proposals, such as the anticipated Park and Ride facilities

Recommendation 2 is great and would hopefully be supported by all apart from the most ardent cyclist-hating petrol head.

Unfortunately if the Committee votes for recommendation 1 as well breaking a pledge made way back in 2002 when the GMPTA (the previous name for GMITA) agreed in principle to allow off-peak cycle carriage on Metrolink Phase 3 trams - they will also continue to prevent the Greater Manchester system from integrating two sustainable modes of transport - the bicycle and tram.

It woud also continue a regretable policy that puts Manchester at odds with many progressive cities in Europe and across the world including Australia,Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands and the United States of America -all of which are very happy to allow bicycles to travel on their networks. Even the London Underground allows passengers to take bikes onto most sections of the system, even in the heart of the city such as on the Circle, District and Hammersmith and City lines, during off-peak hours.

Allowing bicycles to travel on off-peak trams would encourage more people to combine tram and cycle journeys for commuting, shopping and leisure, and be an effective way to reduce carbon emissions. This argument is given greater power when considering Greater Manchester's own transport strategy which suggests that between 2 and 5 miles is a perfect cycling distance, and that around 90% of the Greater Manchester population will soon be within a 2.5 mile cycle ride of a tram (when the hugely welcome new Metrolink services are completed).

The vote on this takes place tomorrow and Love Your Bike and the Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign are calling on anyone who can to contact the GMITA and urge committee members to honour the pledge made in 2002 and vote to allow cycle carriage on off-peak cycle trams. If you fancy adding your voice, please send your message to

Unfortunately, at the moment the attitude of Metrolink and GMITA appears to be more along the lines of Cyclists in the Way!

PS The lovely Bike & Ride policy in from Nurnberg in Germany.....


  1. Hi Pete do read the US report, based on real research of real systems, the statements in the Agenda Item 08 from the GMITA meeting almost made me choke on my croissants and coffee today. Compare the recommendations in '08' and the evidence on which these have been founded, and then read p 25-31 of the US Transportation Research Board report, in most cases the complete opposite of the commentary taken from the report by consultants (which no one seems to have seen) on which the GMITA committee is being asked to vote. Maybe they should defer a vote until the disparity between the information they have been presented with and the evidence from other sources can be tested to see why they seem so radically divergent in their conclusions.

    In any case the issue has a more significant impact on the operation of Metrolink than a major capital project, and will surely need to be reviewed by a group besides the Capital Projects Committee.

  2. Sounds like a concerted Facebook campaign could be useful - how about getting people to email those on the committee that voted NO presenting them with the evidence not provided to you ahead of time and not reported to committee members?!