Cyclists across Victoria are stepping up a gear to overturn the bike ban on trains. Connex and V/Line travellers are at loggerheads with transport operators, who say the ban is needed to ease overcrowding across the rail network. Some cycling groups believe the ban was a knee-jerk reaction by the State Government to placate train travellers fed up with cramped conditions.
And the latest Department of Infrastructure figures from a recent passenger survey found that fewer than 100 cyclists carried their bikes on board peak hour trains each day.On Wednesday morning, about 100 cyclists are expected to arrive at Bendigo station to protest against the ban.
Protest organiser Jill Gibson said the ban had already begun to affect regular commuters. She called on Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky to allow bikes back on trains. Ms Gibson said cyclists would take cardboard bicycles on to the train from Castlemaine to Bendigo in a “symbolic gesture”.
“We figure that the number of people wanting to commute and bring their bikes is increasing … there are no limitations on the number of prams allowed on trains,” Ms Gibson said.
On Friday, the City of Greater Bendigo voted to push for Ms Kosky to dump the ban and to initiate and lead a delegation of central Victorian councils to meet with V/Line management to highlight the negative implications the ban will have on regional train travellers.
The facilities development manager at Bicycle Victoria, Jason den Hollander, said the organisation recognised the problems of overcrowding on peak-hour services but said the ban could be modified to allow bikes on certain carriages.
Mr den Hollander said more secure bike parking at stations was needed and that folding bikes should be allowed on all public transport. Bicycle Victoria is working with the department to get secure cages built at Eltham and South Geelong stations, which is part of a pilot program.
A spokeswoman for the Bin the Bike Ban lobby group, Brianna Laugher, acknowledged that trains were overcrowded and said cyclists didn’t want preferential treatment.
“If they need to beef up restrictions because of overcrowding that is fine.
“But the peak-hour ban is unacceptable because it removes too much flexibility and perhaps legitimises some antagonism to cyclists,” she said.
Cyclists are banned from taking bikes on peak-hour services in Perth. However, those with foldable bikes can use any service, as can riders with unicycles.
The new rules prevent cyclists taking their bikes on Zone 1 metropolitan trains that arrive in the city between 7am and 9am, or leave it between 4pm and 7pm.