First to trial cycle carriage in Scotland

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FirstGroup is to allow bikes to be carried on buses for the first time in Scottish cities as an experiment.

According to The Scotsman, the trial will take place this autumn, with bikes filling the space occupied during the day by buggies and wheelchairs.

Cyclists will be allowed on board services in Glasgow, Aberdeen and across eastern Scotland.

Regional managing director for Scotland Mark Savelli, said: “We should be seeing cyclists as a friend not a foe – buses and bikes often just try to avoid each other.”

He said the move promoted integrated transport and fitted in with the bus industry’s Greener Journeys campaign to encourage people to switch from car to bus.

Savelli said cycles would initially be carried free, though he is considering a £1 charge – despite sister firm ScotRail not levying a fee for carrying cycles on trains.

The service will be offered from 1900hrs when buses are less busy, but with only one bike per bus due to space restrictions.

While Scottish Citylink and some rural operators carry bikes in under-floor luggage compartments on coaches, FirstGroup is the first bus operator north of the Border to carry them on city services.

Savelli said: “We could help encourage people to cycle, knowing they would not have to go back home in the dark and wet.
“We run more services in the evening than people think. We operate until midnight, with up to six buses an hour on main corridors.”

Savelli said the service could be particularly popular in Aberdeen because of its lack of a suburban rail network, unlike in Glasgow. In New Zealand, bikes were carried on racks on the outside of buses, but this would not be practical in Scottish cities because of potential delays.

Andrew Pankhurst of Cycling Scotland said: “It’s fantastic. Public transport is a great way to get around, but it doesn’t provide the door-to-door experience you get with the car. It works so well on the train it’s been frustrating that until now it hasn’t been possible on most bus services, so this is a really welcome development.

“In the interests of encouraging greater bike and bus use, the free option is the way to go.”

Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone, who has campaigned on the issue, said: “It’s great that bus companies are starting to realise cyclists could be a good new market for them but charging a supplement cannot be justifiable.”