Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has announced proposals to launch a trial to allow bikes on trams, which will be considered by transport leaders next week. Metrolink allows folded bikes in bags on trams but under current rules, standard bikes are not permitted.
Proposals to undertake a guided pilot to test the safe carriage of bikes and non-standard cycles on off-peak tram services has been confirmed by TfGM today. During the guided pilot, there will be no change to the conditions of carriage for customers – only invited participants will be able to take their bikes on Metrolink under test conditions during the pilot.
The trial, due to be considered by the Bee Network Committee at its next meeting, will take place under the supervision of TfGM and the tram operator, Keolis Amey Metrolink to minimise the impact on passengers and maintain public safety. Volunteer cyclists will take their bikes on board, sampling different routes and stops at different times of the day and days of the week. Feedback will be sought from other passengers and the cyclists themselves.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham committed to carrying out the pilot study as part of his mayoral manifesto, which was also recommended by Active Travel Commissioner Dame Sarah Storey as part of her Refreshed Active Travel Mission.
Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “My recommendation to trial the carriage of non-folding bikes on trams is borne from the ambition to deliver a universally accessible Bee Network in Greater Manchester, where everyone has the choice to switch between different modes in one journey should they need to, as well as ensuring that people who use their cycle as a mobility aid aren’t excluded from using the service.”
The next step is to study the impact of bikes on trams in practice on various routes and scenarios across the network. The pilot study will also look at the carriage of adapted bikes used as mobility aids, scooters and a broader range of mobility scooters than are not currently permitted.
Consideration will be given to the space required to transport bikes alongside passengers, taking account of the existing challenges of accommodating bikes both on trams and on the wider Metrolink network, including stops and transport interchanges.
At the same time as bike users, people who have a range of lived experiences will be involved too, including those with disabilities and those travelling with pushchairs. Their participation will enable researchers to create different scenarios that would exist if bikes were allowed on trams, in a controlled way, and with experiences of all participants taken on board.
The pilot will start at the end February and will take place over a period of four-to-six weeks, with results presented back to the Bee Network Committee in the summer. TfGM will soon recruit volunteers from groups it is already working with to take part in the guided pilot with various bikes across different routes.
Researchers will then interview volunteers, customers and staff to inform a follow-up report to the Bee Network Committee with recommendations regarding the carriage of bikes on Metrolink. A full risk assessment will inform the pilot and the supervised nature of the study will ensure that any impact on passengers is kept to a minimum.