East London Line derails commuter cyclists

£1 billion railway still closed — and bicycles not welcome
Diane Abbott criticises bike facilities under a two-wheeled mayor

View from the driver’s cab of the train passing through Hoxton station and towards the City during Loving Dalston’s preview ride early in March 2010

CYCLE-COMMUTERS have been overlooked by the still-closed East London Line (map), a Loving Dalston investigtion reveals.

The number of cycle racks per station will average less than 11… eventually… maybe. The train operator is also imposing severe restrictions on carrying bikes in its carriages.

TfL told Loving Dalston that it aims to install 120 racks between Dalston Junction and New Cross Gate, which is until late May the operational extent of the line. Most of the racks will be exposed to the weather.

TfL hopes that local authorities will install further racks but this seems optimistic given that even the 120 racks are doubtful: in some cases “planning permission from local authorities will be required”, admits TfL.

Clearly, this £1 billion project’s leaders have failed to give meaningful consideration to cycle-commuting, which is odd when politicians like to talk about “joined-up thinking” on transport and the environment.

TfL says that its “teams have not been able to get access to the stations until very recently [because] the premises were under the control of the construction contractor”. “Thus,” TfL says, “they [the teams] are only now starting to put together a bicycle plan.”

The transport body concedes that even this late-in-the-day action may get nowhere. “It may be in some cases,” it says, “that the spaces they [the teams] have tentatively nominated for bike facilities might be needed by the station operator for another higher priority purpose. Or alternatively, it may be that planning permission is not possible on some of the sites they have in mind.”

Equally disturbing are indications that London Overground Rail Operations (Lorol)  has not ruled out charging to carry bicycles, even though its four-carriage trains include no dedicated spaces for bicycles.

The Deutsche Bahn-owned Lorol boasts that between Dalston Junction and West Croydon folding bikes will be carried free of charge; as if any railway company charges users to carry parcels, which is what a folding bike in effect is. To articulate such a policy point implies that Lorol wants at some stage to charge for non-folding bikes, if not also for folding bikes.

Lorol will not carry non-folders on the London Overground between 7am and 10am and 4pm and 7pm Monday to Friday. As if to stoke fears of charging for all bikes, Lorol adds: “Non-folding bicycles may be carried free of charge at all other times.” [Ignore the “may”; Lorol clearly meant to say “will”.]

Mayor Johnson’s office told Loving Dalston: “TfL has invested £1.5 million on installing more cycle parking at stations in 2009-2010, and is planning an initial installation of approximately 120 racks on the ELL stations Dalston Junction to New Cross Gate. The Mayor is committed to the creation of 66,000 new cycle parking spaces in London by 2012, and TfL is working to support this.

“The conditions of carriage — that bikes can’t be taken on in peak hours — are consistent with other train operators and the Tube. There is no question of charging to take bikes on [the ELL].”

Local MP Diane Abbott said: “You would have thought that Boris, who is so fond of his bike and is so keen to claim the ELL opening as his glory, would have looked into how the service measures up for cyclists.

“However, Hackney is a bike-friendly borough and I am sure TFL and the council will work together to make sure that cyclists are welcome on the service.”

Mischa Borris, Hackney Green Party mayoral candidate, commented that there should be adequate provision on trains, not just for bikes but for people with buggies, wheelchairs and bulky luggage. The new types of trains with fewer seats are potentially dangerous for people to have to stand. “It can,” she said, “lead to conflict between standers and those with bikes etc. who are trying to use the same space.”

Keith Angus, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said: “This is a bit of a slap in the face for Hackney cyclists who might want to use this new service.”

“Dalston Junction again fails to open”: more on this, press this hyperlink.

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

David Altheer 190410


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2 thoughts on “East London Line derails commuter cyclists

  1. Within days of Dalston Junction station’s opening, cyclists have been locking their bikes to the recently painted railings outside the building while inside a spacious hall waits as if for cycle racks. London mayor “Biker” Boris Johnson would not comment on the Ell’s lack of facilities. Perhaps cyclists should press Dalston’s newly elected councillors.

  2. Good points – there are a half dozen new sheffield stands outside Haggerston station – within view of the ticket barriers but no apparent CCTV – perhaps that is coming. I think it would be a much better use of public money to concentrate spend on secure or supervised stands at key stations, such as Dalston and Shoreditch.

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