Working party set up to consider issue

A bike ban on Manchester's tram system is to be re-considered after an agreement to set up a working party to consider the issue.

Presently, all bicycles are banned on Manchester's tram system, even Brompton-style folding bikes (unless they're in a case).

However, a meeting of the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) has decided to look again at the issue, and six members from the three main parties will seek advice from tram users, cycling organisations and the ten district authorities.

GMITA also asked for a report to be brought to the Authority's Policy and Resources Committee of any other European tram systems that have similar operating characteristics to Metrolink that allow bikes to be carried.

Bike campaigners have protested vociferously against the ban, and have previously criticised GMITA for treating bikes 'like ticking bombs'.

The cost implications of enabling bikes to be carried, including the cost of modifications to old and new trams, will also be calculated as part of the review.

In addition, the report will explore, in consultation with the operator, Stagecoach Metrolink, the potential for a pilot scheme.

Councillor Keith Whitmore, Chair of GMITA, said: "We have received a lot of representations from members of cycling groups on this matter and we have now agreed to carry out a further detailed assessment of this issue.

"Whilst maintaining the safety of all passengers remains the over-riding issue, this review will help us to better understand the full implications of the situation."

In January, a meeting this week of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority, run by 10 district councils in the area, voted 7-5 in favour of keeping the ban, even in non-peak hours.

Pete Abel, from Love Your Bike campaign, said: "The Love Your Bike campaign welcomes the decision to set up working groups to learn from the experience of other European light rail operators with similar trams to Manchester's that permit cycle carriage, develop a plan for the experimental introduction of off-peak bicycle carriage and to fully consult cycling and community groups.

"We look forward to working with the GMITA to help develop a progressive, integrated and sustainable transport network for Greater Manchester in the 21st century."