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Railwatch 086 - November 2000

The way to go

Bikes are at the heart of integrated public transport, just across the Channel in mainland Europe. This picture of bike racks outside Ostend station is typical of Belgium and most other European countries.

It is a contrast to the entrances to most British stations which are usually clogged up by polluting cars.

In Ostend, cars play second fiddle to trams which serve stations that also offer safe and easy access for bikes, pedestrians and bus passengers - the people who cause least social and environmental damage.

It is possible to leave your bike at the station, take it on board the train for a few pounds or hire one at your destination. There are also cheap fares for families in contrast to Britain where ATOC has recently deliberately put up fares for Family railcard users. Britain already has some of the highest rail fares in the world.

There are also fears that South Central is to get new trains which fail to take account of the large numbers of cyclists, buggies, prams and people with bulky luggage who use the existing trains.

RDS already has a cycling officer - Andy Hoines - and is considering beefing up its campaigning on the issue after an initiative by national executive member Clara Zilahi.

We have allies in this field - the cycle campaign group CTC and the consultancy group Bikerail - but many bike and train users go unrepresented and are discriminated against even though they are doing more than their fair share to protect the environment - by reducing car use.

Bikerail (020 7252 3696) has recently published Who dares wins which argues for greater investment in the concept as the best door-to-door rival to the car. Bike and rail is socially inclusive, bringing work and recreational opportunities especially to the young, it saves time and money and can be easy if the various agencies and rail businesses cooperate properly.

On a brighter note, the Strategic Railway Authority has awarded £56,000 of Rail Passenger Partnership money to help Anglia Railways provide storage for bikes and motorbikes at stations.

There is an internet forum at Bikes_on_Trains@listbot.com

Note: contact details (postal and email addresses, along with telephone numbers) in old editions of Railwatch out of date. Click CONTACT US for latest contact details.

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