Fiona Hall, Lib Dem MEP (Member of the European Parliament) for the North East, is visiting Darlington this Saturday, April 28th, as part of her campaign to make trains more accessible for cyclists and wheelchair users. Darlington Cycling Campaign are supporting the campaign and will be meeting her at the station.
The European Parliament voted for a resolution to require trains to have extra space for bikes, pushchairs, wheelchairs and sports equipment. This is going to the Council of Ministers and the UK Government have said that they will fight against the proposals in the transport ministers' meeting. The story so far is on Fiona's website:
Campaign members use the train on a daily basis, using bikes at either end of the journey:
I find my journey to York quite easy by bike and train and it is a lot quicker than driving. I think there is potential for a lot more cycle/train commuters in Darlington.
I use the train quite regularly for work and it often makes sense to take my bike. I have done this on several occassions from Darlington to Newcastle, Durham, York and Middlesbrough.
So, bikes and trains can live happily together. Or, can they?
Booking a bike on a train is very difficult and time consuming, so I have a bike at both ends (bike 2 lives on York Station).
The main problem that I face is the insistence that I make a reservation for my bike. This is a problem because, if I'm attending meetings, I don't necessarily know what time they will finish. I have missed trains where I've made a reservation or faced a long wait for my train if the meeting finished early.
More space on trains is clearly needed, both for bikes and wheelchairs/scooters.
(we regularly use the train with our kids and it only takes a couple of families doing the same and the lobbies are stuffed full of pushchairs.)