The Greens urge rail firms to push for cycle hub cash

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Rail operators everywhere in the UK should take advantage of new Government plans to turn stations into “cycle hubs” says the Green Party.

The party wants to see Network Rail put in bids for cash to make bicycles an easy option for rail users travelling to and from stations.

A £5 million fund has been launched to make 10 stations across the UK far more cycle-friendly and bids are being prepared.

The thing that gets me though is that it is only aimed to make 10 (in words “TEN”) stations across the UK more cycle-friendly.

Jesus wept! We need all stations to become cycle friendly and we need our towns and cities to become cycle friendly if we really are serious, as a country, of improving the quality of life.

But, whenever I see silly stuff like those figures quote here – 10 railway stations to be made more cycle friendly – I wonder whether everything is not just a lot of talk and hot air. What are 10 stations in the entire picture. Pilot projects?

“Making cycling to stations easier is partly a job for local councils by improving cycle routes, but rail operators must take this opportunity to gain funds to improve cycling facilities at stations.”

Lord Adonis made his proposals after cycling to stations to see the state of facilities and he said afterwards that the rail network was “letting down” cycling commuters. He sure is not wrong in that.

The minister also visited Leiden in Holland, where he saw cycle parking for 4,500 bikes – 300 more than the entire city of London.

“I think we can do a lot better,” he said. “There is a big job to be done but I am determined to see improvements in the facilities at our stations.

“I want to see every major station also serve as a cycling hub, as is the case in Holland. Cycling in Holland is not in the genes, it’s in the facilities that are available."

Good on you, Lord Adonis, but will it happen?

We also need to have trains that have carriages for cycles – like in the Netherlands and in Belgium, for instance – so that people can also take cycles on trains during the rush hour, allowing them to cycle from home to rail station and then from rail station, on the other end, to work; and the reverse on the homeward journey.

The problem is in Britain that the entire country is not geared up for cycling but instead just for the car. Cycle routes are tagged on as an afterthought unlike in the countries of the European mainland where they are always, it seems, in the forefront of consideration.

The examples are there; will Britain be willing to learn from them?

© 2009