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Video: "Insanity" - cyclists protest British Rail bike ban 37 years ago today

Riders use bikes to block entrance to rail operator's head office...

The BBC has posted archive footage to Twitter from 37 years ago today of cyclists using their bicycles to block the entrance to British Rail’s head office in protest at bikes being banned from rush-hour trains.

In the footage from 2 January 1980, one of the cyclists says: “We believe that it’s absolute insanity to have this ban imposed now at a time of energy shortage when in fact commuting with your bicycle on the train is the most efficient way to go to work.”

The BBC reporter points out that British Rail were “a trifle embarrassed” at the demonstration, given that two years earlier they had encouraged people to take bicycles on trains by allowing them to be carried free of charge.

Nowadays, of course, it’s the norm for non-folding bicycles to be banned at busy times – and even when it’s quieter, advance reservations for them are required by franchise holders such as Great Western Railway.

Meanwhile, the mass cycle parking put in place at stations such as Cambridge by Abellio Greater Anglia reflects the Dutch-owned company’s desire to shift commuting cyclists who use the train towards the Netherlands model of not taking a bike on the train at all.

For those heading to London at least, that’s easier now due to the Santander Cycles scheme which means they can leave their own bike at the station, take the train, then complete their journey on a hire bike.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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