so - earlier this summer lots of people (including me!) got excited to hear about our Government wanting to encourage more of us onto our bicycles and investing nearly £80m to back up the rhetoric!
sadly, at the same time Northern Rail seem to be doubling their efforts to actively discourage cycling...
Anyone trying to board a Northern Rail service (at any time) with a bicycle will know how hit and miss it is as to whether there'll actually be a bike rack on a carriage, and if there is, if there'll be space to squeeze another frame in. But Northern seem to have now gone one better and seem to be actively discriminating against cyclists: they're about to close a tunnel for maintenance works for 5 months during the upcoming winter period, and during this time have arranged a replacement bus service between affected stations.
Now, any cyclist will know that replacement bus services can sometimes struggle with any passenger carrying more than a shoulder bag... so I made enquires at my local station office in Todmorden and was assured that pushchairs and wheelchair users would be accommodated, but that they were unsure about bicycles.
So, a few emails to Northern Rail customer services later, and I've been told that there will be no provision made for 'non-folding bicycles' - this means that if you're travelling by train with your bike, you'll need to cycle the 15 miles between stations yourself, in winter, and having done it myself (once!), you'll need to give yourself at least an extra hour and a half and be in really good shape to cope with the inclines...
Of course - the folding bicycles refer only to the brompton-style commuter bikes, and lovely as these are, not many people in the valleys have them as their wheels are too small to be able to cope with the hills in these parts.
So - for the next 5 months, I'll be forced to use a car for travel, as Northern Rail have failed to make provision for me as a passenger with a bicycle, while every other group of passenger will be catered for.
No wonder they've their own hashtag on twitter: #northernfail