Bans on bikes were proposed for much of the network
Bans on bikes were proposed for much of the rail network

Train companies ban cycles during Olympics

Train operating companies banned cycles from many trains during the Olympic Games period, with the worst closures affecting the cycling road races on the 28/29 July. After few observed problems the bans were lifted in time for the Paralympics.

The news was confirmed in changes to the Association of Train Operating Companies leaflet on cycling and rail, which was circulated to cycling organisations just two months before the Games began. Southern and Southeastern imposed the worst restrictions, bicycles were not permitted on any trains going to or from London beyond a certain point. Southeastern originally intended to continue the ban from the start of the Games on 27 July until the end of the Paralympics in early September.

It's not just spectators attending the Games that were affected: commuters who normally permitted to take full size bikes on some trains found they couldn't during the Games. Many therefore had to get on the packed Underground to complete their journeys in London, undermining the efforts of organisers to get people to adjust their journeys to avoid congestion.

Since the bans cover other cities and towns as well as London, commuters, shoppers and day trippers weren't able to make the trips they have otherwise planned. CTC heard from members who had had to cancel events and rearrange their trips. One group returning on the ferry from France were told they couldn't board a train at Dover to get to Rochester because the train was carrying on to London.

In the run up to the Games, following pressure from CTC and local cycling groups, Southern agreed to reduce the restrictions on their network, and, by the end of the Olympics, both companies agreed to lift the ban entirely.

Some cyclists attempted to avoid the ban by using a polythene bike bag to transform cycles into luggage. A similar approach was used to avoid bans imposed during the Tour de France's visit to Britain in 2007. When using this approach on other trains with restrictions please note that bikes must be dismantled (wheels removed etc) to ensure that the bagged package is no bigger than a large suitcase. You can also order a bag by calling CTC National Office on 0844 736 8450, or by email.

Chris Peck