For evidence that the policy of Cycling UK regarding bikes on trains does nothing for cycle-touring you need look no further than this page on their website
. Their policy is all about: "choosing to commute by bike" and taking "your bike on the train with no charge". Nowhere does it talk about the train's essential role in the car-free lifestyle, as a long-range bicycle launcher! For those less frequent, long-distance journeys, the security of a booked place for your bike is essential and prioritising short-distance freeloaders gets in the way of that.
It is a truism that a free service ultimately becomes a worthless service and we see the truth of it in what has happened since CTC 'won' their pyrric victory of free bike travel in the 80s. At the time I said it would serve cycling better to campaign for a simple, any-distance bicycle fee, about the same as the passenger fare for a 50 mile journey. And since then I've seen the number of places available for bikes drastically reduced whilst the difficulty of booking and the probability of refused assess to a train at some point in a long journey have both increased, to the point when in 2005 I bought a car.
A flat fee for bikes is what you will find in any country where cycling is popular, because commuting with your bike on the train is only possible so long as very few people want to do it - or if it is a very compact folding bike. In those countries, taking your normal bike on the train is an off-peak or long-distance mode and always costs the same flat fare. Short bike-rail journeys are still possible, but relatively expensive, which is as it should be, because the frequent loading and unloading of bikes that goes with short journeys, delays trains. And the space occupied by the short hop bike may deny access to someone on a much longer (and more expensive) journey, such that they miss a vital connection.
Contrast the manifesto
of the European Cycling Federation. Point 7, on multi-modal travel says:
Access to mobility rather than owning a private car will become the default solution in the 21st century sharing economy. Cycling must be a full partner in this. If the EU is to fund the development of multi-modal journey planners, information about bicycle networks, access to bike-sharing schemes and bike parking has to be integrated. Likewise, bike-sharing schemes should be a full part of integrated ticketing schemes. On long-distance train journeys, the carriage of complete bicycles should be allowed on all services, amending Regulation EC 1371/2007 on passenger rights’ and obligations accordingly.
In their vision, taking a bike with you on the train is primarily a long-distance affair. And this is not just a nice to have, but a major campaign for the ECF, so important that Trains for Cyclists
is currently one of the top headings on their website!
Why doesn't Cycling UK do something like that? Don't you think it would be more constructive than 'tourist shaming'?