PRESSURE is being exerted by councillors in Sheffield to allow bicycles to be carried on the tram-trains to be trialled between the city and Rotherham.
They want cyclists to be able to take advantage of the £58m Government-financed pilot project, which will see the new vehicles running on tram routes and Network Rail lines between Sheffield, Meadowhall and Rotherham from 2015.
Two motions asking for cyclists not to be forgotten are on the agenda when the full council meets next Wednesday.
Labour councillor Peter Price, who has taken part in numerous overseas cycle marathons in aid of cancer research, says many European cities allow bicycles on their trams and local trains “all without any reported problems,”.
He wants the council to support the Sheffield Cycle Forum campaign in calling for partners involved in the tram-train experiment to allow the carrying of bicycles specifically asking South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority to make representations to operator Stagecoach.
Pressure also comes from Green councillor Jillian Creasy.
She says that when the council unanimously welcomed the investment last June, it made clear it wanted to ensure bicycles could be carried on the vehicles.
Now she fears that due to Stagecoach’s conditions of carriage, bicycles will not be allowed, even though they are permitted on trains.
“As this is a national pilot, it is vital that the feasibility of carrying bicycles on tram/trains is tested and that Sheffield leads the way in terms of integrated transport,” says Coun Creasy.
She is pressing for the Government’s Department for Transport, the Passenger Transport Executive, Network Rail and Northern Rail to bring pressure to bear on Stagecoach.
It is hoped the tram-trains will reduce congestion on the roads and cut journey times between Sheffield and Rotherham. They are lighter, more energy efficient and have faster acceleration and deceleration than conventional trains.
For a number of years, cycling groups in Sheffield have been pressing Stagecoach to allow bicycles to be taken on trams, but without success.
A spokeswoman for Supertram said: “We accept folding bicycles on our tram services. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to accept traditional bikes for a number of reasons.
“This policy, which has been agreed by SYPTE, has been in place for almost 20 years, since before we began operating the Supertram network.
“In partnership with SYPTE, we recently carried out a review of this policy but, following a number of assessments, the decision was taken to maintain the same position.
“This position has also been adopted by many other light rail operators in the UK. There is a limited amount of space available on board our trams and our review found that the carriage of bikes could result in potential accessibility issues for our other customers.
“Supertram services provide vital transport links for more than 44,000 people every day and we believe this decision is in the best interests of the majority of our passengers.”