Birmingham Cyclist

Cycling in and around Birmingham England

London Midland CycleHack Challenge | Monday 30th October 2017

Hello Birmingham cyclists!

 

We would like to tell you about an exciting event that we think you and your community would be interested to be involved in.

London Midland and CycleHack HQ invite you to a creative day to explore travelling by train with a bicycle. Working together, we want to make travelling with bikes more enjoyable for cyclists, non-cyclists and staff. The London Midland CycleHack Challenge will be a full day of ideas, action and experimentation.

Event details:

Date: Monday 30th October

Time: 11am - 5pm

Address: Innovation Birmingham Ltd, Holt Street, Birmingham, West Midlands, B7 4BB

Eventbrite: bit.ly/LML-CycleHack

People from all sorts of backgrounds and skills will come together around a specific challenge. Expect hands-on research exercises, collaboration and testing of your ideas out in the real world. Previous experience on the topic is not necessary, just bring your enthusiasm!

The day includes:

  • Lunch and refreshments

  • A chance to meet and collaborate with new people who care about improving travelling by train with a bicycle

  • Vouchers sent to you in advance for free travel on London Midland trains to and from the event

Register your place here!

We look forward to hearing meeting you and hearing your ideas,

Maya

CycleHack HQ


CycleHack Global Movement

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Maya

That's for posting this and welcome to the site.

In my experience London Midland have been pretty awful as far as improving things for cyclists is concerned . In 2011 they consulted on cycle parking for 10 bikes at Snow Hill station. They asked people to choose from two locations, either on the left or the right as you enter the station just before the ticket office. Either of these would have been fine and my feedback was that they could actually do both. They did neither and six years later there is still no cycle parking there. They consulted again last year for two teir racks on the right hand side but this has not happened either. I've tried emailing and using Twitter a few times over the years but they take no action. They even put up laminated A4 signs telling people not to park bikes anywhere on station property.

I like the idea of cycle hack but London Midland need to sort the basics out and provide cycle parking at all their stations. It shouldn't take years when the space is available.

I might attend.

LS

Whilst London Midland are "cycle tolerant", the trains are not "cycle friendly".   Only two cycles are allowed on each train (at least on my local route), and there's not really anywhere to put them.   The official location is the wheelchair space, but since that's often in use bikes end up in the door lobby.   In the not-so-distant past there was a luggage van on all trains, and you could put your bike in that.   On the plus side, carriage is free and the staff are very tolerant.

At University Station the covered cycle shelter is nearly always full and I have to leave my bike much of the day locked to one of the Birmingham University stands, uncovered.   And of course I have to wheel what can be a heavily laden bike up a wheeling ramp, because one of the reasons for it not being a proper ramp (like at Bournville) was that Network Rail objected to a ramp being built on their property.   A proper ramp would not also have been better for cyclists, but also it would have provided access for people using traditional mobility aids, such as wheelchairs (some people use cycles as mobility aids, BTW).

You might find this of interest.   The Dutch rail company does cycle hire, addressing the "final mile" issue with trains.

I'm interested, but I suspect I'm also a bit too cynical.  Much as I appreciate a clever hack, the nature of hacks is that they're limited in scope and a poor substitute for doing things properly.  It's hard not to see this as a PR exercise for a TOC that are unable or unwilling to improve their cycle provision in boring, obvious and accessible ways.

The best hack for travelling by train with a bicycle is the Brompton.  It's a lovely piece of engineering, and works well for some use-cases, but it doesn't solve the underlying problem of rolling stock with no proper luggage capacity.

Robert's example of wheeling ramps is another thing that I'd classify as a hack.  The danger here is that it works well enough for some significant proportion of users, decreasing the incentive to fix the underlying problem, and shafting everyone else (who, as usual, tend to be marginalised groups such as disabled people, women, children and the elderly).

Hi there, thanks for sharing this image, this is really useful. We would love to have you there on the 30th if you did want to join us. Have you booked a ticket for the event?


LS said:

Hi Kim,

These are all fantastic points and not too cynical at all. We would really appreciate these thoughts at the event on the 30th if you would like to join in?

Thanks!


Kim said:

I'm interested, but I suspect I'm also a bit too cynical.  Much as I appreciate a clever hack, the nature of hacks is that they're limited in scope and a poor substitute for doing things properly.  It's hard not to see this as a PR exercise for a TOC that are unable or unwilling to improve their cycle provision in boring, obvious and accessible ways.

The best hack for travelling by train with a bicycle is the Brompton.  It's a lovely piece of engineering, and works well for some use-cases, but it doesn't solve the underlying problem of rolling stock with no proper luggage capacity.

Robert's example of wheeling ramps is another thing that I'd classify as a hack.  The danger here is that it works well enough for some significant proportion of users, decreasing the incentive to fix the underlying problem, and shafting everyone else (who, as usual, tend to be marginalised groups such as disabled people, women, children and the elderly).

Hi Robert, 

Thanks for the message, these are all really great points. And thank you for sharing those links. Robert, are you affiliated with Push Bikes? It would be great to have this voice in the room on the 30th. Are you planning to attend?

Maya


Robert said:

Whilst London Midland are "cycle tolerant", the trains are not "cycle friendly".   Only two cycles are allowed on each train (at least on my local route), and there's not really anywhere to put them.   The official location is the wheelchair space, but since that's often in use bikes end up in the door lobby.   In the not-so-distant past there was a luggage van on all trains, and you could put your bike in that.   On the plus side, carriage is free and the staff are very tolerant.

At University Station the covered cycle shelter is nearly always full and I have to leave my bike much of the day locked to one of the Birmingham University stands, uncovered.   And of course I have to wheel what can be a heavily laden bike up a wheeling ramp, because one of the reasons for it not being a proper ramp (like at Bournville) was that Network Rail objected to a ramp being built on their property.   A proper ramp would not also have been better for cyclists, but also it would have provided access for people using traditional mobility aids, such as wheelchairs (some people use cycles as mobility aids, BTW).

You might find this of interest.   The Dutch rail company does cycle hire, addressing the "final mile" issue with trains.

I'm on the list!

Maya CycleHack said:

Hi Kim,

These are all fantastic points and not too cynical at all. We would really appreciate these thoughts at the event on the 30th if you would like to join in?

I'm on the Push Bikes committee, but I wont be attending this event as it is during work hours and rather long.   However, the vice chair of Push Bikes says he is attending.

One thing I have thought of since my last post is that New Street station is now one huge hack, and demonstrates nicely the perils of hacking.   It is even more unusable than it was before the recent work.   Firstly the layout is hopelessly confusing, making it very difficult to find the correct lift.   Of course if you do find the right lift, one cyclist will completely fill it, which is a problem on such a busy station.  I've ended up carrying my bike up and down the stairs.   Secondly, there is the need to go through two ticket barriers, complete with bike, to change platforms.   Thirdly the stench of diesel fumes is overpowering.  And finally the location of the bike stands has attracted a lot of criticism (including yet more engine fumes to endure).

Maya CycleHack said:

Hi Robert, 

Thanks for the message, these are all really great points. And thank you for sharing those links. Robert, are you affiliated with Push Bikes? It would be great to have this voice in the room on the 30th. Are you planning to attend?

While I can rant endlessly about the new New Street station, the lifts are the main thing that's vastly improved.  We now have two lifts direct to each platform, one of which will reasonably take a loaded cycle along with other lift users.

The problem is one of information provision.  If you know what you're doing, you can use the B-end concourse to change platform without passing through ticket barriers, and the A-end for bigger, more bike-friendly lifts.  But that requires a sense of direction and a high familiarity with the layout of the station - something which is completely unassisted by the design of the place.  There's a special kind of stupidity that leads to having 'lounges' named after colours without reflecting that prolifically in the decor to aid people orienting themselves.

It's a bit like all the train-spotter knowledge I've acquired since travelling by train with a bike.  On the continent, when you want to take your bike on the train, you go to the bit of the platform where the bike sign is, and that lines up with the right bit of train.  In the UK you end up with an encyclopaedic knowledge of rolling stock, so you can tell the difference between a Class 350 and a Class 323 and know how to find the different cycle provision in each.  You care whether it's a Pendolino or a Voyager because one of them means you need to play Where's Wally to find the member of staff on the crowed platform (full of people who are taller than you) to let you on before the train departs.  You know that if there's a yellow plate above the Dellner coupler as the Crosscountry Voyager approaches it means you need to start shoving your way to the other end of the platform now because you guessed wrong and if you don't hurry the dangly bike spaces will fill with luggages before you get there.  It's looking up the headcodes of the trains you're thinking about booking so you can pick the one with the longer dwell time.  It's knowing which three TOC websites still use the old system which actually lets you book cycle reservations.

There's a bit of my brain that knows what a Dellner coupler is.  That's a hack.

Robert said:

One thing I have thought of since my last post is that New Street station is now one huge hack, and demonstrates nicely the perils of hacking.   It is even more unusable than it was before the recent work.   Firstly the layout is hopelessly confusing, making it very difficult to find the correct lift.   Of course if you do find the right lift, one cyclist will completely fill it, which is a problem on such a busy station.  I've ended up carrying my bike up and down the stairs.   Secondly, there is the need to go through two ticket barriers, complete with bike, to change platforms.   Thirdly the stench of diesel fumes is overpowering.  And finally the location of the bike stands has attracted a lot of criticism (including yet more engine fumes to endure).

The company taking over from London Midland are Dutch so maybe things will improve.

I wouldn't bank on it.   Crosscountry Trains are owned by Deutsche Bahn, but I've had some fun and games booking my bike on to CrossCountry services.

That looming takeover of the London Midland services has made me wonder why London Midland are even bothering with this CycleHack exercise.

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