Birmingham Cyclist

Cycling in and around Birmingham England

Sorry to only list two other places in the WM - the others know who they are.

Just wondering - I've had a useful twitter dialogue with a Coventry councillor, and he is calling for "more informed cyclists" to feed back to him on the proposed £7m worth of developments we have budget approval for.

I know what priorities I would be going for, and have outlined some of them in my blog -

http://manifietso.blogspot.co.uk/

I am also active on twitter under the @manifietso handle.

There is also a Coventry campaign mailing list, which usually goes out monthly -

http://www.coventrycyclist.org.uk/

So my question is -

1) How can we all pool resources across the West Midlands? Look at the resources London Cycling Campaign have - both in terms of funding through members and additional cash, and also the simple fact most boroughs seem to meet monthly.

2) Should there be a pan-WM cycling campaign, and if so, will Centro support it with some cash (afaik, TfL give LCC money)?

3) If yes to above, what are the most important issues of cross-boundary co-operation? I'd suggest trains, stations, canals, and the airport / NEC complex on top of the obvious longer distance routes.

4) Are there other people from Cov, or just not from Brum reading this? Is there a virtual 'critical mass' for separate forums for us here, or elsewhere?

I suggest that whatever co-ordination is done, running it through here is a good place to start, as whether we like it or not, Brum is always going to be the lead player on these matters.

And if you disagree with me on any of this, tough - you can't send me to Coventry as I'm already stuck here behind the impenterable barrier of the A452 / A45 ;)

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Apart from being one of the most cycle-friendly TOCs in the country?

 

Please elaborate. That's not how I see them. For a start, they don't even label the space on their trains as being for bikes. They said this is due DaFt guidelines, but every other TOC does. This creates confusion - especially for passengers not used to it. They say this is to stop bikes taking a space when a wheelchair user wants it. That is silly. You can easily have icons for both, and say with there is conflict, wheelchair takes precedence.

 

Serco / Abellio are putting in secure parking and bike hire across many of their stations. That to me is bike friendly. So is Leamington Station - much less busy than Coventry, but 300 spaces. We have about 80.

Chris,

Very interesting observations. Surely there are ways of chasing up in the interim? Emails especially, I know some of our councillors use twitter, not really engaged with any officials of yet.

I have attended one or two meetings of our own airport consultative committee. That is supposed to have certain statutory powers, although getting SEction 106 planning agreements written and enforced is a very different thing!

I got a very interesting FOI response about a cycle path that was supposed to be provided as part of a new development in the west of Coventry. Ultimately though, I can only blog about it, maybe email councillors concerned, but do I want to wind them up the wrong way when we have a whole load of new projects? My inclination is that yes I do - they have the money to spend anyway, and they need scrutinising on how they are going to spend it.

Chris said:

By hold to account, I mean that when cyclists discuss an issue with an officer from a council or Centro, etc., at the next forum (or at a future forum) that organisation needs to report what actions have been taken on that matter, and what issues there have been. They can then be quizzed by cyclists about those actions, and future points of action developed.

In Birmingham, we have a (semi) regular Cyclists' Forum already, but it generally is organised so that cyclists only listen to presentations about various things and then have very little time for discussion and questions. The effect is that there is no positive benefits from the forum. I would be disappointed to have something similar for the West Midlands - I'd like to take the lessons we are learning from the Cyclists' Forum in Brum and make sure that any future Cyclists' Forums are set up so that cyclists get some real input into the discussions, and can see positive actions being taken as a result of those discussions.

I'm talking strictly in terms of travelling by train with your cycle, rather than parking at stations.  That's not something I generally do.

Fair enough about the labelling issue.  The bike/wheelchair spaces on London Midland's EMUs are easily located by looking for the pantograph, though that does require some trainspotter knowledge.

They're still less hassle than Virgin (who insist on reservations, and then you have to run the risk of not being able to find someone to open the bike compartment - not easy at New Street when you're below average hight and have a knee problem that precludes running the length of the platform looking for staff).  Crosscountry are horrible - the dangly bike spaces on Voyagers are unsuited to many types of bike, and assume you're tall and able-bodied enough to lift the bike into place.  Assuming, of course that the space isn't full of luggage, rubbish or unreserved cycles.  The extremely useful New Street to Stansted service is permanently crammed, and you have to be lucky and down right assertive to get a bike on board, even with a reservation.

Train services in the South-east are a mixed bag, though their silliness during the Olympic period is well-documented.  First Great western and East Coast have the same sort of issues as Virgin.  Other TOCs I haven't used with a bike enough to form an opinion of, though smaller services are often limited by the rolling stock.

London Midland are great in comparison.  You can generally get your bike on any off-peak train, no reservation needed, and the staff won't be jobsworths at you (I've never had a problem with my partner's trike on LM, as they have the sense to appreciate that in spite of the third wheel, it folds smaller than a normal bicycle.  With CrossCountry, you're out of luck.).



James Avery said:

Apart from being one of the most cycle-friendly TOCs in the country?

 

Please elaborate. That's not how I see them. For a start, they don't even label the space on their trains as being for bikes. They said this is due DaFt guidelines, but every other TOC does. This creates confusion - especially for passengers not used to it. They say this is to stop bikes taking a space when a wheelchair user wants it. That is silly. You can easily have icons for both, and say with there is conflict, wheelchair takes precedence.

The bike/wheelchair spaces on London Midland's EMUs are easily located by looking for the pantograph, though that does require some trainspotter knowledge.

You mean the pointy bit that connects to the wires? Does your ferroequinology extend to working out which services operated by 351s and which ones 352s ;)?

Interesting comments. So are LM good by virtue of being a local regional service (eg like Northern or Arriva Wales) or do their staff actually go out of the way to help? My usual rule for Virgin is to avoid them when a local alternative is available or to make sure I book day before.

I also take your point about not all cyclists being 100% able. My stance is from the mental health point of view - I have surrendered my driving licence, so bike is only way I can get around where I want, when I want. Sometimes a bit of assistance from a train increases my mobility still further ;)

I think Dave Cox is helping to arrange a meeting which will bring together the cycle groups and Centro.  It would be useful if we had a list of the groups in the Centro area.  I know there is Push Bikes in Birmingham, Cyclesolihull in Solihull and Cycling in Sandwell in Sandwell.  It sounds like James (Avery) is in a group covering Coventry.  Does anyone have a contact name in Cycling in Sandwell? Also does anyone know which groups cover the local authority areas of Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton and have a contact name in those groups that we can contact? 

Dudley - StourBUG. I'll ask my dad to check with the cycling officer to find out if there are any more cycling groups.

Wolverhampton - Wolves on Wheels.

Don't know about Walsall.

Simon,

We have a campaign list and website run by George Riches - http://www.coventrycyclist.org.uk/

We don't have a formal group structure like WolvesOnWheels. I think there's pros and cons of that, will be interesting to see what responses Dave gets.

I once had the stress of getting a panniered bike into a dangly compartment behind the driver's cab and decided I wouldn't put myself through that again.

I try to use LM or Arriva because the units they run tend to have reasonably accessible disabled/bike space imo.

I do, however, alter my bikes to suit what I find. Some of the Shrewsbury to Swansea trains have lockers with narrow entrances that panniers won't pass through, so now I don't have any luggage wider than the handlebars.

If I am likely to need to use a non local TOC I take a folder.


James Avery said:

Interesting comments. So are LM good by virtue of being a local regional service (eg like Northern or Arriva Wales) or do their staff actually go out of the way to help? My usual rule for Virgin is to avoid them when a local alternative is available or to make sure I book day before.

London Midland whenever possible for me (Wolves to Brum). I once got on an old style Arriva TW coach and couldn't get my Dutch handlebars into the bike box. The new ones are ok. I'm able bodied but cannot lift my 20kg Dutch tank into the hooks on XC and Virgin services.


Dexey said:

I once had the stress of getting a panniered bike into a dangly compartment behind the driver's cab and decided I wouldn't put myself through that again.

I try to use LM or Arriva because the units they run tend to have reasonably accessible disabled/bike space imo.

I do, however, alter my bikes to suit what I find. Some of the Shrewsbury to Swansea trains have lockers with narrow entrances that panniers won't pass through, so now I don't have any luggage wider than the handlebars.

If I am likely to need to use a non local TOC I take a folder.

Anyhoo (why are we talking about trains?) Wolverhampton has a quarterly cycling forum. I've not been able to attend because they're usually at 6.30 of an evening when I'm still in transit from work, but I get the minutes etc. It seems things are being discussed and the cycling officer (which changed a few months ago) takes stuff back to the council. Whether he's successful at getting stuff done I don't know. 

Incidentally Wolves have decided they want to limit motorised traffic in town centre which in itself is a noble aim. There are some major issues in how they want to do it though, affecting cycling access and NCN81. There's a consultation event at the Mander Centre this week until Saturday and plans can be viewed here. Wolves on Wheels are all over it, but I'm going to have a look at the display and ask some questions before I get my pencil sharpener out...

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