As of today, Eurostar is implementing new luggage policies for their refurbished fleet. Instead of seeing a future where bicycles are part of transport, they have made it increasingly difficult for cyclists to participate in the Eurostar potential. Instead of being a vision for the future, Eurostar has become a sanitised, travel-by-numbers organisation. Times are getting tougher for cyclists with Eurostar. Read on for the full rant.
In the past, cyclists could come with their bikes, literally riding onto the concourse, and pay £30/50 Euros to have their bikes placed on board in the luggage train. It was convenient and cooperative with the cycling community.
Now Eurostar expects the bike to be broken down and placed inside a bike box. That is an incredible demand for a standard cyclist riding with fenders or basic carrier, panniers, handlebar bags. Any combination of these additionals will make the new policy a means of refusing cyclists from the Eurostar trains.
Now in a bike box, Eurostar still demands a £35/50 Euro payment to transport the box.
Previously, for cyclists who were mechanically inclined, we could break down our bikes, package them in bike bags and bring them on our own cars as a piece of luggage. I wonder if that liberty will be an option in the future? Given that full bikes in a bike bag measure about 90cms, five centimetres longer than the luggage length limit, even cooperative cyclists could find their transport option being refused – and a charge added to travel costs.
Eurostar has taken steps to be less cooperative with cyclists. At least, in the past, a rider could travel with a bike fully assembled. Fenders, carrier racks, panniers would remain intact. To break down a well-equipped commuter bike, with fenders and a carrier, will be a considerable mechanical endeavour.
The new policy is breaking their connection to individual bicycle riders. This policy is not designed to bring more cyclists on their trains. It is there to drive them away. The reality of active bikes used by commuters, tourists, day riders are not wanted. Bikes are now seen as factory-packaged units for point A-B transport.
It is more than apparent cycling organisations were never consulted. Since the announcement, the new policy has been roundly criticised by a range of European cycling advocacy organisations from GRACQ tonFietsersbond to the European Cycling Federation. Over 2,700 wrote in protest in the first seven hours and leading politicians, including London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, have called put for the policy to be revoked.
Despite the international outcry, Eurostar has shown no crack in their decision to box or bag all bikes and charge for the lessened status.
This is yet another international train service that has joined the new era in train design – flawed, disconnected to its audience and locked in a long past era. I recently went to MAD Bike where we were lectured by a representative of a company that actually designs trains and train stations. It was a shocking presentation where bicycles and cyclists seemed to be unwanted and were being all but planned out of the next generation of public transport.
Eurostar must be one of their clients. Or at least creating the same business profile.
If Eurostar were really interested in accommodating cyclists, the company would open the luggage car to cyclists and allow bikes to be stored intact their for travel. Bikes, fully assembled, easily stack in a queue, handlebars to seats. That minimal service is worth £30.
It would have made Eurostar a leading voice in the future of public transport. At a recent debate during mobility week, the only growth area in transport found in Holland was in bike/train commuters. More and more people are taking their bikes. Eurostar should understand they could play a part in this future, not in the seventies thinking that bikes are for children and weekends.
If you are interested in protesting the new policy, there is an online petition to sign.
CHANGES TO CYCLES ON EUROSTAR – PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION
Eurostar called on to ditch mew bicycle dismantling policy – The Guardian, Oct 14, 2015
Eurostar’s new bike storage policy attracts criticism – BBC News, Oct 13
Thousands urge Eurostar to rethink on ‘dismantled bikes’ plan – International BT.com. Oct 14
Eurostar’s bike dismantling policy treats cyclists as third-class passengers – Telegraph, Oct 15
CTC calls for meeting with Eurostar over change in bike carriage policy – road.cc, Oct 21