Manchester Evening News

It’s ‘safety first’ for bikes-on-trams trial

- By PAUL BRITTON

BICYCLES won’t be allowed on board Metrolink trams unless it can be done safely, a key transport committee has heard.

The M.E.N. reported a trial of allowing bicycles on trams will take place over six weeks from next month, fulfilling an election pledge of the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham. Transport for Greater Manchester will invite ‘volunteers’ to take different types of bikes on specific tram journeys travelling to different locations at different times of the day. They will be accompanie­d by staff to ensure passenger safety.

TfGM said the pilot – during off-peak times only – would provide ‘insight into the identified risks and issues’ of any future policy change. Currently, Metrolink regulation­s state cyclists can only take folding bikes on board trams, and only if they are fully folded and covered.

Bury councillor Eamonn O’Brien, chair of the Bee Network Committee, spoke after a fellow councillor raised ‘serious concerns’ about safety. Any policy charge would require bikes to be secured at all times.

Rochdale councillor Phil Burke said at a meeting of the committee yesterday: “Only two weeks ago I was involved in a crash where a car went straight into the side of a tram. I head-butted my colleague twice, first of all because of the car slamming into tram then the tram putting on the emergency brakes.

“Four of us suffered injuries. This was on a quiet night – on a Wednesday night when not many people were on the tram. Should something serious happen on a tram where we have got bikes, I would hate to see what sort of injuries people would suffer. I do have serious concerns about safety.”

Coun O’Brien said: “Safety is the top of everyone’s concern on this and if we can’t make it work safely we can’t make it work, I think is the fundamenta­l of it. The best think to do is pilot it and see if we can make it work. The red line for all of us would be, we have to do this safely if we are ever going to do it at all.”

Salford councillor Mike McCusker said he went to Copenhagen in Denmark last year and trams there have dedicated carriages for bikes separate to passengers.

Oldham councillor Howard Sykes welcomed the trial and said: “We need to come up with a solution that allows people to do this accepting all the technical difficulti­es there might be. I don’t think it’s beyond the good people employed to come up with a solution that will work for cyclists and other passengers.”

TfGM will appoint independen­t researcher­s to observe the tests. They will interview the volunteers, other passengers and staff and produce a report to guide risk assessment­s. The results are expected to be analysed during April and May, with a further report presented to the Bee Network Committee – the new name for the Transport Committee – in the summer.

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