No rethink of Sheffield tram bike ban

South Yorkshire PTE had been urged to reconsider stance after successful bike trial on London's DLR

by Simon_MacMichael   January 25, 2014  

Sheffield Supertram (picture copyright Stagecoach Group plc)

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) has said that non-folding bicycles won’t be allowed on Sheffield’s Supertram – despite being urged to follow the example of the Docklands Light Railway in London, which will now allow them to be taken on trains outside peak hours following a successful trial.

A spokeswoman for Supertram told the Sheffield Telegraph: “There is a limited amount of space available on board our trams and our review found the carriage of bikes could result in potential accessibility issues for our other customers.”

However, Paul Blomfield, the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central, maintained that the South Yorkshire city should learn from the example of the DLR.

He said: “Its successful trial has shown bikes can be taken on to light railways and trams without any problems, which is common across Europe,” adding that a trial should be undertaken on the proposed Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train route.

SYPTE’s policy that only folding bicycles can be carried reflects the stance taken by other tram operators in England – and in Manchester, even those must be covered while in transit.

Last November, Supertram operator Stagecoach said in a report to councillors who oversee SYTPE that it believed there were “safety risks” associated with the carriage of full-size bicycles.

Those included the “risk of conflict” between cyclist and other passengers, bikes turning into “projectiles” in the event of a crash, and the potential for other passengers’ clothes to become dirty if they brushed against a bicycle.

SYPTE has also highlighted that space on trams is needed for wheelchairs, buggies and seating for the elderly and other infirm passengers, and cannot be turned over to bicycles.

24 user comments

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Thing is that Trams tend to only go relatively short distances so not sure why you would take your bike but not ride it. Whereas trains go a fair bit further. So not sure they can be compared.

A solution would be to have a bike rack on the front like the buses in Los Angeles.

posted by jimmyd [91 posts]
25th January 2014 - 14:46

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I've never heard of any serious injury caused by "a bike becoming a projectile in the event of a crash". But that's just me.

This is how it usually ends when public transport is managed by people who haven't used a tram for years.

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

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posted by mikroos [165 posts]
25th January 2014 - 15:17

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So a pram wont be a projectile in the event of a crash? You try to be green and opt for public transport + bike commute and get shut down.

Its utter nonsense! Angry

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posted by bici1977 [27 posts]
25th January 2014 - 15:22

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I find that the concerns about a 15-20Kg bike breaking loose when the tram does a full blown emergency stop, rather pale against being hit by a loose 90-140 Kg person rather imbalanced.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [429 posts]
25th January 2014 - 15:31

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bici1977 wrote:
So a pram wont be a projectile in the event of a crash? You try to be green and opt for public transport + bike commute and get shut down.

Its utter nonsense! Angry

This sums up the "uk" perfectly, can't do this, can't do that, a complete joke when you look at what can be done elsewhere.

posted by northstar [936 posts]
25th January 2014 - 16:42

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By the way, how can you call anything "super" when it doesn't involve bicycles?!

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

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posted by mikroos [165 posts]
25th January 2014 - 17:53

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Sheffield's council are the same ones that have demolished the Don Valley Stadium where Jess Ennis trained.

Maybe the SYPT has the same mindset and can't get their head around the cocept of promoting excercise.

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

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posted by badback [254 posts]
25th January 2014 - 20:07

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Such a shame the transit authority seems to be looking for reasons to not accommodate cyclists. Here in Portland, the light rail has special accommodation for bikes in the front and back of most cars. There's an open area near the doors where you can hang your front wheel from a ceiling hook attached to the rail car along with a wheel plate to keep your back wheel snug (pics here http://trimet.org/howtoride/bikes/bikesonmax.htm). Makes it so that people can bike to their local/suburban station, pop in with their bike, and then bike from the destination station to wherever their work is. Very fast and cuts down on traffic congestion. Suspect not a viable option for Sheffield to retrofit?

Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. ~James E. Starrs

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posted by movingtarget [99 posts]
25th January 2014 - 21:07

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movingtarget wrote:
Such a shame the transit authority seems to be looking for reasons to not accommodate cyclists. Here in Portland, the light rail has special accommodation for bikes in the front and back of most cars. There's an open area near the doors where you can hang your front wheel from a ceiling hook attached to the rail car along with a wheel plate to keep your back wheel snug (pics here http://trimet.org/howtoride/bikes/bikesonmax.htm). Makes it so that people can bike to their local/suburban station, pop in with their bike, and then bike from the destination station to wherever their work is. Very fast and cuts down on traffic congestion. Suspect not a viable option for Sheffield to retrofit?

The difference here is that the transport engineers in Portland did some actual engineering to find a solution. Seems like here in the UK, bureaucrats try really hard to find ways to do the opposite.

posted by jacknorell [168 posts]
25th January 2014 - 22:04

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Where's Yorkshire? (runs and hides)

2013 Specialized Venge Expert Di2 / 2013 Jamis Nova Pro Di2 / 2014 Specialized Tarmac S-Works Di2

posted by goggy [36 posts]
25th January 2014 - 22:12

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jimmyd wrote:
Thing is that Trams tend to only go relatively short distances so not sure why you would take your bike but not ride it. Whereas trains go a fair bit further. So not sure they can be compared.
Article refers to tram-train route. Google says 7.7 miles long. Some people would tram the 7.7 then cycle 2 or 3 from the station I suppose. It's about getting less athletic types using bikes and trams and trains in a handy modern mix that works as well or better than a car.

posted by vbvb [166 posts]
25th January 2014 - 23:30

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I agree with Jimmyd. What is the point of taking your bike on a tram? For a distance of only 7.7miles you might even be quicker to cycle.

The tram operators are quite right. Why should other passengers put up with the hassle of a cyclist hitting their shins with peddles and getting in everyone's way just because he/she is too lazy to cycle the full distance.

If you must go on a tram for such short distances buy a Moulton.

posted by fizrar6 [4 posts]
26th January 2014 - 9:59

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Assuming the trams haven't changed that much since I used to work/study in Sheffield, I'm surprised 'bikes on trams' was even considered. There's not enough space on them. You can't do it here in Manchester either and it doesn't inconvenience me in the slightest.

Of course in an ideal world you'd design genuinely integrated public transport networks with cycle capacity taken into account, but like most cities in the UK, Sheffield and Manchester are so far away from even having something as simple/standard as an affordable (key word) pass to use all forms of public transport in the area - let alone light rail services to places people actually live in/want to visit (to be fair, this is being worked on).

Getting bikes in the equation as well is just so far down the list - because of the limited utility of it, plus the difficulty in getting the patchwork of various local authorities, transport authorities and multitude of private companies that actually run the things, all with competing interests to agree on anything at all - that its not even worth bothering with. Just be glad there even is a tram.

And then tell tha'sen tha's bein bloody nesh and get back on tha bloody bike!

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posted by Ghedebrav [802 posts]
26th January 2014 - 10:42

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Also have to say as both a cyclist and a recent father, I'd be pretty pissed off to find I couldn't get on the tram with the buggy because someone was on there with a bike.

Realise it's a systemic issue, but folk with buggies/wheelchairs or similar don't have a choice, other than the stark one to not be able to use public transport. These debates often bring up the bicycle/pram comparison, but it's not a fair one.

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posted by Ghedebrav [802 posts]
26th January 2014 - 10:50

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jimmyd wrote:
Thing is that Trams tend to only go relatively short distances so not sure why you would take your bike but not ride it. Whereas trains go a fair bit further. So not sure they can be compared.

A solution would be to have a bike rack on the front like the buses in Los Angeles.


Sheffield is a very hilly city. The hills are common deterrents to ordinary people using bikes.
At least one of the tram routes goes up one of the very big hills. If bikes were allowed on trams and buses I suspect more people would bike down and hitch a lift home.
Given that Sheffield has got a massive problem with air quality, this seems like a really practical solution that could be very easily achieved with a bit of political will.

posted by Sara_H [32 posts]
26th January 2014 - 13:26

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I'm surprised Sheffield City Council haven't tried banning bikes entirely, they seemed so hostile to us when I lived there.

posted by Jonathing [42 posts]
26th January 2014 - 13:35

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Ghedebrav wrote:
Also have to say as both a cyclist and a recent father, I'd be pretty pissed off to find I couldn't get on the tram with the buggy because someone was on there with a bike.

Realise it's a systemic issue, but folk with buggies/wheelchairs or similar don't have a choice, other than the stark one to not be able to use public transport. These debates often bring up the bicycle/pram comparison, but it's not a fair one.

Valid points but where there's a will there's a way.

posted by northstar [936 posts]
26th January 2014 - 14:13

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"There is a limited amount of space available on board our trams"
Really? One passed me the other morning and I counted a grand total of three people on it.

posted by The Acai [5 posts]
26th January 2014 - 15:31

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Ghedebrav wrote:
Also have to say as both a cyclist and a recent father, I'd be pretty pissed off to find I couldn't get on the tram with the buggy because someone was on there with a bike.

Realise it's a systemic issue, but folk with buggies/wheelchairs or similar don't have a choice, other than the stark one to not be able to use public transport. These debates often bring up the bicycle/pram comparison, but it's not a fair one.

True.

As an aside I have a couple of times witnessed angry arguments between mothers-with-buggies and a person-in-a-wheelchair over whose needs were greatest (both on the bus at the time of conflict and even outside that situation). I don't think I'd want to try to join in to argue that my bike was more important than either!

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [497 posts]
26th January 2014 - 15:42

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
Ghedebrav wrote:
Also have to say as both a cyclist and a recent father, I'd be pretty pissed off to find I couldn't get on the tram with the buggy because someone was on there with a bike.

Realise it's a systemic issue, but folk with buggies/wheelchairs or similar don't have a choice, other than the stark one to not be able to use public transport. These debates often bring up the bicycle/pram comparison, but it's not a fair one.

True.

As an aside I have a couple of times witnessed angry arguments between mothers-with-buggies and a person-in-a-wheelchair over whose needs were greatest (both on the bus at the time of conflict and even outside that situation). I don't think I'd want to try to join in to argue that my bike was more important than either!

Yes, people with buggies often seem to conveniently forget they fold up. Seen plenty of parent board an already busy bus and just leave it in the alise when other buggies are in the spaces provided, then get angry and verbal at passengers who try to get off.

I dont think there is any light rail in the UK (outside of london) that allows bikes, seems to be no-one wants to go first lest they all have to consider it. [actually, does the liverpool underground allow bikes?]

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posted by STATO [400 posts]
26th January 2014 - 20:14

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Bikes-on-public-transport is only compatible with low bike use/demand for the service. You can't take bikes on trams in the netheralands, and can only take folding bikes on peak time trains. off peak you can take full sized bikes, but it costs €6 for a day pass to do so.

posted by Al__S [418 posts]
27th January 2014 - 9:46

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"the potential for other passengers’ clothes to become dirty if they brushed against a bicycle."

I'd be more worried about some joe public brushing up against and dirtying my bike!

posted by kitsunegari [16 posts]
27th January 2014 - 9:48

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I'm almost certain that you used to be able to take bikes on trams in Sheffield. I've used it as an argument against the Metrolink in Manchester, using Sheffield as an example.

Is this a new replacement tram service or has my mind completely fabricated this?

I've definitely been on a tram in Sheffield when a couple of lads with BMXs got on a few years ago, but they could just have been getting away with it.

posted by farrell [1015 posts]
27th January 2014 - 11:18

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fizrar6 wrote:
If you must go on a tram for such short distances buy a Moulton.

Moulton don't make a folding bike.

posted by The Bonk [5 posts]
27th January 2014 - 22:34

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