london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

lancashire
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london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby lancashire » 27 Oct 2010, 12:38pm

HI, London stations have new policy, sickeningly called "welcome to the fold" which says all folders must be carried folded beyond the ticket barriers.

London stations are huge, with long tunnels to platforms and long platforms. I personally can't carry 11kg say, for very long ie up and down stairs if necessary. I don't think they've thought this through, I don't think there are many people happy to lug a folded bike around - are they excluding most women in this rule? They are certainly excluding people with what might seem like minor conditions/disabilities which make it impossible to carry/may be the reason they have a bike in the first place. As far as I know Bromptom is only pull along bike when folded which is a bit dull.

JJF
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby JJF » 27 Oct 2010, 9:12pm

Can you say where you heard of this new policy please? I've tried searches on google without success.
The London main station I use most frequently is Liverpool St. I never fold my bike. Just wheel it to the train and wheel it on. Same at St Pancras (last used in May). I was at Paddington(without bike) last week and people were wheeling rigid bikes to their trains.

ericonabike
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby ericonabike » 28 Oct 2010, 11:21am

I regularly wheel bike through St Pancras with no hassle. Could this be an internet myth? You can still take non-folders on trains [admittedly not many at a time] after all.

rickybails
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby rickybails » 28 Oct 2010, 8:40pm

This just happened to me. It's happened to me the last couple of weeks when I enter London Bridge ticket barriers for platforms 1-6 but not the gates for platforms 8+. I folded the bike to get through the barriers, then when I folded it up again to wheel it to the platform I was blocked by a manager and a policewoman.

I'm extremely peeved about it as my folding bike is both heavy and does not wheel when folded. And I do genuinely have a very sore lower back that doesn't take kindly to me carrying my bike. I've heard of some people (women with Bromptons) in tears over this.

It's not a new policy - this policy came in a few years ago, with most train companies around the same time. The policy is that you must only carry folded bikes on the trains (not the station and platform) however the interpretation of the rule has been very inconsistent over the years. Those posters look like the same ones they put out a few years back. Check the wording - it says trains not platforms. Recently they have been getting lenient and I've seen more and more full-size bikes on the peak-time trains. So the policy has not been enforced so well lately and perhaps this new enforcement approach is a backlash to that. Looks like only certain gate-staff have been following a stricter interpretation of the rules.

I think the reason they want to make us fold our bikes at the gates is because they want to avoid conflict on the trains, where the conductor is on their own and can't do much if a cyclist refuses to fold their bike, or don't want to have to chuck someone off for having a full-size bike. It doesn't work of course, but at least it proves that our bikes can fold and the barrier provides an easy enforcement point with police and managers around for backup if they get any agro (like they did from me today - but only because I was seconds from missing my train, otherwise I would have preferred to talk it through with them).

rickybails
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby rickybails » 29 Oct 2010, 7:02am

The problem here is not about the folding policy but about the heavy-handed way it's being enforced at certain gates by certain staff. I am worried that this is some sort of trial and if they think it works they will extend this behavior to all stations and all gates. I will try and talk to someone at my station to find out more.

My train company has a long history of heavy-handedness towards cyclists. When they first introduced the ban (6-7 years ago I think) they hired lots of huge security guards, dressed in black and not in the train uniform, to stop cyclists getting on to the platform without their bikes folded. But after a time they started letting us wheel our bikes down the platform again. A couple of years ago Brighton station re-introduced this interpretation of the rules and were making us fold at the gates. I was manhandled by one staff member at one point when I unfolded my bike beyond the gate to make the long walk to the train.

I think we are protected by law here. My understanding is this. The 'Health and Safety' law says that employers can't make their staff carry more than 10kg single-handedly. Then there's a 'duty of care' law that extends the health and safety laws to customers on the company premises. So this means, I think, that the train companies are breaking these laws by making us carry our bikes a long way. This law will only apply when your folding bike can't practically be wheeled when it's folded, which is most of them.

We shouldn't have to resort to laws though to get the train companies to stop this behaviour. The ticket gates need to be kept free and flowing at peak times. Having us fold our bikes at that point gets in peoples way and will be annoying other customers. They should trust us to fold our bikes when we need to just before we board the train.

It's worth reminding ourselves of why we have the bike ban. Ultimately it's needed because many of the train lines are full to capacity - they are pushing as many trains through as they can, and so they need to pack us in like sardines at peak times. Allowing full-size bikes on trains would mean they can't pack as many customers in, and when you have the doorway full of passengers crammed together, getting a bike through is sometimes very difficult and before the ban some customers complained about the bikes. Around the same time as the ban came in, new carriages came in that didn't have the large cattle-wagon areas for bikes. But at the heart of the problem I think is capacity on the lines, such as old tunnels with only 1 line each way which would have required both forward thinking and lots of investment to be expanded at the right time. So as long as when we are on the train our bikes are folded and we are considerate to other passengers, there should not be a problem.

What we need is a good negotiator to talk this through with the train companies and persuade them to apply the bike ban a different way, and to treat us like the sensible adults that most of us are. It would help if they were consistent between stations, gates, and over time so we know where we stand.

Last time this happened I went to my local MP, he wrote a letter to the train management, and soon after they stopped making us carry the bikes. So there's hope we can do the same this time. We do need to act though.

N.B. while there is a history of aggression towards cyclists from the train companies, there is also a history of aggression the other way which does not help matters. We need the train management to have some empathy towards those cyclists who have difficulty carrying their bikes, so we need to treat the train staff and management with the same respect we'd like them to show towards us.

So if this affects you, please go and talk rationally to a train manager today.

rickybails
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby rickybails » 29 Oct 2010, 7:37am

No manager this morning at the time I came through London Bridge, but the gate staff explained why only some gates at that station were doing this. Some gates are managed by Southern (platforms 8+) and others by South Eastern. It's the South Eastern management that have asked their gate staff to do this, and not Southern.

David Cox
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby David Cox » 31 Oct 2010, 6:20pm

This policy or try on seems to offend against many elements in the new equality act - gender, age, disability (which now includes many forms of illness). Mention this and get their names. The act as I understand it (but perhaps an expert out there could comment) is enforceable against the organisation but also the individual who discriminates.

iviehoff
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby iviehoff » 1 Nov 2010, 10:26am

Slightly tangential to the above, Chiltern Railways recently published a requirement that "a folding bicycle" for the purposes of being allowed onto peak hour trains has a wheel size of at most 20 inches. Presumably they do not consider the full size wheel bicycles that fold in half sufficiently compact to be allowed onto trains at peak hour.

At Marylebone, where there is extensive cycle parking on Platform 3, there wouldn't be any point to a restriction in pre-folding your folding bike.

Edited to correct the wheel diameter.
Last edited by iviehoff on 2 Nov 2010, 8:48am, edited 1 time in total.

dave holladay
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby dave holladay » 2 Nov 2010, 3:40am

This information on Chiltern runs completely contra to the ATOC policy agreed with all operators for the information issued on folding bikes. There was an issue with FCC for a while where they specified wheel sizes but I understood that all operators had agreed NOT to specify wheel sizes.

However folding bikes are carried by way of the argument put some 25 years ago when bike reservations and the £3 fee were introduced and changes made to the 1977 offer when the old 'half fare' was dropped and bikes went free. The gist was that bikes which packed down to meet the dimensions specified in the National Rail conditions of carriage, for a piece of luggage were successfully argued to be pieces of luggage - ergo if it is the size of a suitcase, and it fits into the rack or space for a suitcase then it IS a suitcase.

Sadly some manufacturers/bike owners are pushing that limit beyond the pale and there are some folded bike packages that create more of a problem when folded than if they were just wheeled on board.

Space on the trains is at a premium largely because we have a world of business that insists on everyone having to travel at the same times of day, in the same direction to the same place (so London's rail services use twice as many trains rammed to over 100% capacity for less that 10% of the time, and for the rest of the day half the fleet sits idle and the other half rattles around with fresh air filling most of the seats. Because the world of business cannot face up to the crippling costs and ridiculous inefficiencies of this arrangement, created by its operating regime, we have to make the best of this situation, and that means trains that leave passengers behind because they cannot physically in get through the doors, and this in turn causes delays that bring the system grinding to a halt. Ironically the old trains with doors all along the sides and huge springy seats actually got more passengers into the same train lengths than the modern ones, and emptied much faster when they arrived - such is progress!

Of course having a bike to get to and from your train is a great benefit and elsewhere on the Campaigns forum we have had people posting in their savings in time and money - it is not uncommon to cut up to 60 minutes from a door to desk journey time of around 120 minutes by using a folding bike effectively with the train and this can save you £600+ for the London Central Zones annual ticket plus £800-£1600 for a car park season ticket. Including indirect savings (Gym sessions, not owning a car, etc) some people are reckoning up savings of over £8000 per year on household costs. Effectively you will pay for a Brompton, or similar light and compact machine in under 6 months, so small wonder that when Chris Peck and I, and a few others have spent a few periods counting bikes at some key exits from London Termini we get a) substantial bike numbers and b) 30-40% of those bikes are Bromptons and another 20% are typically other types of folding bike. Information like this is vital to the campaign for effective integration of cycling with rail travel and I urge you to post to the relevant threads (I'll need to resurrect them near the top of the pile).

On my last trip in from Stevenage there were 3 Bromptons in my end of the carriage (I could not see or move along to check anywhere else), with the cycle users well pleased with the reliability and freedom this gave them. The most telling results and a measure which gives the biggest boost to cycle use that I've ever seen, with no cycle lanes or any other facilities required if the reaction to a long term service disruption for a commuter rail service. The key ones that I have recorded are Thameslink 2004-05 and W&C 2006-07 with both delivering has been a massive leap in cycle use (1000% in additional cycles parked at St Pancras - and even more going onto the trains, and an even larger number of bikes (but smaller % change) parking at Waterloo.

Now with this quantification comes a clear picture of the fact that in addition to the gains of flexibility and autonomy in your daily journey to work, there are some hard financial savings, which may be sufficient to deliver a range of cycling 'products' which can include a variety of bike hire, and secure storage that deliver for some users, as well as on-train carriage as space permits. But lets not forget the big gains to the train operator when so many commuting drivers switch to cycling, that they don't need to spend vast sums on enlarging the car park, and might even sell more off-peak tickets because there are parking spaces available during the day. Amazingly no one seems to have any real clue on this whole pack of data, and the customer profiles to construct a robust business plan and deliver a regime that works for a customer to get a reliable and efficient cycle-rail-cycle journey and the operator to equally gain some key benefits. The travel details from those posting provide a way to put some flesh on those basic bones, and those working to deliver a positive result within the rail industry, and within government cn actually make good use of the information that we can gather in through CTC members and grass-roots cycling at the local level.

Turning to the HSE - quite correctly you note the Manual Handling Regulations which set out limits for both static lifting and the time/distance for loads lifted and carried, and a standard 3-speed Brompton is on the limit of the acceptable envelope for a fit adult male of average build to carry with their arm extended to hold the bike clear of their legs and hip. Section 3 deals with the duty of care of the site owner and their employees towards members of the public using that site, and in making you carry a load in excess of the liomits set, especially when they refuse to allow you to use a safe method could potentially be a Section 3 offence. And if you should injure yourself this should certainly be reported as a dangerous occurrence (RIDDOR) either through the site manager, or if they refuse, directly to a local HSE Office. Incidentally the same applies if you come off your bike on a railway level crossing, and HSE note their concern that minor injuries incurred through activities on railway premises are under reported, this is indeed the experience I've had in checking out level crossing problems.

Check also the detail that when used as a mobility aid by a person qualifying for example under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 a cycle fully meets the required specifications for a Class 1 Invalid Carriage (1988 Regs) as a device propelled without a motor by the user or their attendant (posting separately)

David Cox
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby David Cox » 2 Nov 2010, 8:43am

Dave, this is brilliant and comprehensive as usual. Do you think CTC or Brompton produce a laminated card with the key health and safety and carriage rule facts that we could carry with us? Or is there one available. I'm going to print off a para of your post although I've never had any problems with Brompton but I am only an occasional commuter into London or Manchester.

dave holladay
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby dave holladay » 2 Nov 2010, 9:00am

Thanks David - I try to be informed about the things I speak out about and aspire to being as well versed as the great men of The Renaissance :idea:

It may be a useful detail to work on with Brompton (they won't have any spare time to do it), to highlight the fact that a Brompton is light but may well take you to the recommended limits for safe lifting and carrying set out by the UK Regs, for your physical abilities. The rapid folding plus the transport wheels system means that you should not need to actually carry a Brompton for any great distances, nor, in the UK, should you be forced to carry one for any further than necessary as this may place the organisation in breach of UK H&S legislation for failing in their duty of care towards you.

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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby essexman » 2 Nov 2010, 5:42pm

dave holladay wrote:Thanks David - I try to be informed about the things I speak out about and aspire to being as well versed as the great men of The Renaissance :idea:

It may be a useful detail to work on with Brompton (they won't have any spare time to do it), to highlight the fact that a Brompton is light but may well take you to the recommended limits for safe lifting and carrying set out by the UK Regs, for your physical abilities. The rapid folding plus the transport wheels system means that you should not need to actually carry a Brompton for any great distances, nor, in the UK, should you be forced to carry one for any further than necessary as this may place the organisation in breach of UK H&S legislation for failing in their duty of care towards you.


I wonder, is the same heavy handedness being applied to people who have folded their bikes but are towing them on their trolley wheels with unfolded handlebars? eg bromptons and birdies?
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pete75
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby pete75 » 2 Nov 2010, 11:07pm

rickybails wrote:I think we are protected by law here. My understanding is this. The 'Health and Safety' law says that employers can't make their staff carry more than 10kg single-handedly.


Eh? How damned feeble are the folk of today? When I was 16 in 1969 I worked on a farm. Each Wednesday morning a trailer load of 12 tons of pig food arrived. This was in hundredweight ( about 50 kg) sacks. It was my job to unload and carry them about 50 yards through the piggery to the store at the back.

<inapropriate comment removed>.

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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby Vorpal » 2 Nov 2010, 11:49pm

Lifting and carrying is covered by the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (as noted in a previous post) which do not specify any maximum load, but offers guidelines about loads that are likely to cause injury, and requires employers to make assessments for employees who may be required to lift and carry loads. This is impractical in the case of a train company or station regarding passnegers. It may be worthwhile to point that out to company or local management.

If I had difficulty carrying a folded bike, and station or train company personnel asked me to fold and carry it, I would request assistance form them, and explain the reason. e.g. "I'm sorry sir, but I am being treated for.... in both of my shoulders and I am unable to carry my bike any distance. If my bike must be folded, would you please assist me with it?"
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rickybails
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Re: london stations' policy to carry folded bikes

Postby rickybails » 23 Oct 2012, 4:45pm

If anyone is still listening to this thread, as of yesterday Southern started enforcing this policy (making you carry the bike from the ticket gates). South Eastern has been enforcing it for some time.

Anyone bothered enough to do anything about it? I'm pretty peeved. I spoke to a manager at London Bridge yesterday but they were not listening. You mention the health and safety issue and they think it's a wind-up.