A train company has back-tracked on a ban which prevented a commuter from leaving his bike at a station overnight even though he was following the company's own advice on cycle commuting to and from its stations.
Joe Lutrario, 25, of Hove, commutes to Crawley but is unable to take his bike on the train because of Southern Railways’ policy of only permitting fold-up bikes. road.cc contacted Southern Railways to help clarify the situation.
Mr Lutrario, who cycles from Hove to Brighton Station in the morning, leaving one bike there and picking up his second bike at Three Bridges Station to cycle to his office, always leaves his bike overnight at Three Bridges station. But recently he returned to his second bike to find it plastered with stickers warning that if he did not take his bike away within seven days, it would be removed.
He said: "The company is really letting Brighton down.
"I'm making a progressive and ethical choice using public transport and a bicycle to get to work.
"Southern needs to be more flexible. There is room for about 150 bikes at the station and there are always spaces."
The stickers were all the more confusing to Mr Lutrario because the Southern Railways website recommends exactly what he's doing by urging commuters who need their cycle at the other end of their journey to buy two. The website recommends:
1. Using a folding cycle
2. Re-thinking your journey
3. Travelling earlier or later to avoid peak times
4. Using two cycles (and keeping one at either end)
To clear up the confusion, road.cc contacted Southern Railways and media relations manager Chris Hudson emailed the following reply: “We are allowing the gentleman to park his bike at Three Bridges overnight in future.
“In terms of how long someone can leave their bike at a station, there is no limit as such, but if for example, a passenger was going on holiday, we would hope that we would be informed so we would not treat the bike as having been abandoned.
“If bikes are left at stations and appear to have been abandoned, we will leave notices advising owners to collect them.
“If we opened up our cycle racks carte blanche, then we will end up with the same situation that we have at Brighton, where genuine rail users won’t be able to park their cycles at our stations.”
Mr Lutrario, meanwhile, was contacted by Southern and told that whenever he finds a sticker on his bike, he should contact the station manager. He told road.cc: "I still get the feeling they're making an allowance for me. They're still putting stickers on my bike, but they've told me to contact the station manager."
Mr Lutrario says there is indeed a problem at Brighton Station, but there has never been a problem at Three Bridges, and the company has overreacted.
To further clarify the situation, we called Mr Hudson at Southern and he emailed back, saying: "It seems that staff at the station were not aware that we do not have a problem with rail users parking their bikes overnight and put the notices on Mr Lutrario's bike. They have been advised of the policy and this will not happen again."