Multi-mode travel

This morning I had a very good journey to London for the 2 day Methodist Council meeting.

It was a 6.8 mile ride to Leicester Station on the Birdy (average speed 11.5mph). With an hourly train service from Syston and the time of my London train this made riding the Birdy quicker than catching the train. I took my time folding it and put inside it’s neat cover and it fitted fine in the luggage rack.

Given the impossibility of being sure that you can fit an ordinary bike on the train this was a good solution.

I also had plenty of time at St Pancras so after unfolding the bike I was able to ride it along the empty platform and then found a nice back street route to Methodist Church House rather than simply riding along Euston Road as I have done in the past. With one slight diversion due to an unexpected one way street it was only 2.7 miles (average 10.5mph).

Overnight I have left it securely at Methodist Church house as they had arranged transport to and from the hotel.

Tomorrow I can reverse the journey.

Would I do it everyday? H’mm, I think I would probably swap for a Brompton to get that quicker and smaller fold to make the train bit easier. On the other hand with it’s full suspension the Birdy copes really well with the rollercoaster sections of the Cycle path alongside the Melton Road and between the Abbey Pump Station and Abbey Park. It yet again confirmed for me that despite a really comfy rucsac that it is much better to have the load carried by the bike. Unless things have changed a lot with the new Birdy the Brompton has advantages in this area with big front bags and a rack that is part of the normal fold.

Better still though would be either lots more bookable space for normal bikes on the train or excellent secure storage at Leicester as I could have easily used a Boris bike at the London end (even if not quite with the door to door convenience).

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  1. The whole process of making a reservation for a bike space on a train is so overly complicated. I got very confused by it last week when I headed to Cardiff to try out Ben Big Blue Bike’s Bullitt ( http://bigbluebike.wordpress.com ). I was able to reserve a space on the way there but not the way back. When I asked the lady on the phone why that was all she could tell me was the computer wouldn’t allow it. As it happened it was ok both ways as no one else got on with a bike, but in theory I could have had to leave my bike there if the spaces were already taken or if someone was going to get on with a bike at some point during the journey. Not ideal.

    It doesn’t help that you have to book your ticket online first and then ring a number to book the bike separately and hope the train you booked allows bike reservations.

    Luckily I didn’t mind all the confusion of the system too much as my I was preoccupied with getting to try out a Bullitt… which was great.

  2. Here in Portland, Oregon, (across the pond), the local transit agency (Trimet) allows ordinary sized bikes on the light rail during any hour, which makes things easy for a multi-modal commute. And the regional train service (Amtrak Cascades) that runs north to Seattle and Vancouver allows you to bring on a bike for $5 surcharge. If I was going to be doing a lot of going between cities, I’d shoot for a Brompton. I borrowed one for a trip a few years ago and now it’s a coveted item.

  3. If you can time your journey on East Midlands trains so that you get a 125 [slam door] service each way, there’s never a problem taking any bike on it. Although ostensibly you need to reserve a space, in reality the use of an old-fasioned guard’s van means that there is always enough room. Of course, progress m,eans that the replacement trains for 125s have done away with the guard’s van in favour of a cubby hole …

  4. I have the advantage when taking my bike up to Syston that I go “against the flow” and there’s usually enough space. There have been anything up to 5 bikes in the “bike” end of the train, but the guards let us get on with it and there’s a lot of team-spirit amongst cyclists on trains.
    Nice to see you on the Melton Road!

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