Birmingham Cyclist

Cycling in and around Birmingham England

Refused permission to travel with folded Brompton on 16 bus

I've just written this letter to Centro Customer Relations:

11 February 2015

 

Centro Customer Relations

Centro House

16 Summer Lane

Birmingham  B19 3SD

 

Dear Sir/Madam

 

I am a 72 year old man living in Handsworth who regularly travels in and out and around the city on trains, trams and local buses with my folded Brompton bicycle. At approximately 15.10 on 11th February, carrying my folded bicycle, I boarded an outgoing no.16 bus, at the foot of Constitution Hill at the stop next to ‘The Snow Hill’ building. I was told, quite abruptly, by the driver that he would not carry me with my bike. The registration of the bus was BU51 RVJ. It also bore the number 4251. The driver gave me no explanation for his refusal to allow me to travel on his bus.

I said I would wait in the bus for the police or an inspector as I wanted the incident officially ecorded. At about 15.30, with the bus parked by the stop and other passengers having alighted after been caused delay by this unexplained stoppage, police officers summoned by the driver, arrived in a van.

One officer said to me 'To keep the Queen's Peace, sir, would you alight?" I at once said "Of course" after asking him to witness the driver of the bus stating that at no time had I raised my voice, used abusive language or been anything but civil.

I did tell the driver that I'd travelled with my folded bicycle on his and other services for many years and had never before been forbidden to travel with a folded bicycle. There was room on the bus for the bike, which when he boarded the bus one officer asked to see. The bicycle was more or less hidden behind a seat near the front of the bus. The officer logged the incident at my request - Officer Niro, ‘Log number 1307 11/2/15’

I caught the following bus that was more full than the one I'd been required to leave. The driver hardly noticed me or my folded bike as I boarded with my Centro card.

I found this incident most distressing. The thought that other drivers might repeat this refusal lowers my trust in the service. I believe that what happened should not have, especially at a time when Centro is proclaiming policies to support cycling and walking.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Baddeley

simon@baddeley.be

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Your Ref:  NXWM/58716-12

13 February 2015

Dear Mr Baddeley

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

We are currently investigating this incident and aim to get back to you within 7-10 working days.

Yours sincerely

Tara

Customer Liaison Officer 

0121 254 7272

But he'll have ended up in even more of a mood, unless of course he recognised you and decided it would be a good opportunity for a long layover. In which case he ought tohave thanked you at the end of the occassion.

I have regularly taken my Brompton on buses in the West Midlands and only once had an issue. It was pouring with rain and the bus was rather full. The driver said I couldn't bring the Brompton on, I said I could, he said I'd get people dirty, I said all the grubby stuff was hidden inside the fold, he gave up. Wasn't a pleasant journey because of how full the bus was, but nobody got dirty or fell over the Brompton.

The whole point of the price of a Brompton is that all the mess is kept inside the folded bike, so that you can carry it without getting dirty.

That and the way that the seatpost locks it all securely in the folded position, rather than falling over and flopping open as most folding bike designs tend to.  But I wouldn't expect someone not familiar with Bromptons to know the difference.

Chris Lowe said:

The whole point of the price of a Brompton is that all the mess is kept inside the folded bike, so that you can carry it without getting dirty.

This afternoon Joe from the bus company phoned me about this incident and apologised about what had happened. "There are no excuses. We are really sorry". That was good enough for me! But I still think I was right to wait for the police and get the matter logged. 

Well done. It is good to get a clear straight forward apology from the bus company.

It was good to remain relentlessly civil, get the bus details (number, time and place) and have the incident police logged (even tho' it was the driver who summoned them to try and get me off his bus). I wrote my complaint within an hour of getting home. There is also an issue of how much you can stand on a principle (my right to bring a folded cycle onto a WM bus where there is room for it) to the inconvenience of other passengers. One particularly loquacious lady was urging me to 'get the f*ck off the bus' as she had to pick up her child from nursery. In fact there was another 16 just behind which she and others caught in seconds after passengers realised neither I nor the driver were going to budge. I suspect the bus company were none to pleased that the incident had lost them a whole bus for nearly 30 minutes.



RobG said:

I confess that I very seldom travel on the bus (or train for that matter) with my folder (a Dahon) ... BUT in order to appease any possible objectors I have a cover for the machine that not only disguises it but also keeps any oil or dirt off my trousers!

It's made from black lightweight ripstop nylon and rolls up to about the size of a tennis ball and lives in a small under-saddle bag.   It's elasticated to fit around the machine, and I carry it by holding the main tube through the fabric.  [Imagine a very large black shower cap fitted over the bike - that's how it works!]

That said it does seem that the bus driver in the original post was wrong.

Rob


Rob, your elasticated cover sounds perfect. Where did you get yours? I have been thinking of getting a rucsac rain cover.
I was reminded by an Oxford bus driver that my Brompton should be in a bag but he let me on anyway. I now travel with a large heavy duty black bin bag just in case. Successfully used the ikea bag on a megabus oxford-Cambridge inter city. Disguised bike with paper/card down the sides of the bag and watched the people removing their luggage from the hold like a hawk every time we stopped!

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