Wight Bike Bus

A few years ago we visited California. One of the things that most impressed me was the way that all the buses had racks on the front to carry bikes. Roberta wouldn't dream of travelling in such a manner but it struck me as a very good idea. I've always thought that one of the main things that puts people off cycling any distance is the fear of ending up stranded. 'What if the bike breaks down and I can't fix it? What if I'm just too exhausted to carry on?' I think women particularly worry about being stuck miles from home with a bike that has a problem that they can't fix. Cycling visitors to the Isle of Wight no longer need to worry as Southern Vectis now have 4 buses that have been specially adapted to carry up to 6 bikes.

Bike Bus

Take Your Bike On The Bus
(Picture by, and of, Alan Rowe)

The buses are aimed primarily at tourists and will run on the 'Coaster' service which circles the island 4 times a day during the summer. The back seats have been removed and replaced with racks designed by local engineering students to securely hold up to 6 bikes. They are accessed by the door at the rear of the bus which is marked 'Cyclists and Wheelchair Users Only'. Local cyclists were invited to attend the launch of the service last week but unfortunately I was working on the day in question. It got a good write up in the local press but I was amazed at the negative comments that followed in the online version.

The service had only been running for a couple of days when I got chatting to one of the drivers in Ryde bus station. He seemed very enthusiastic about the idea, although not as enthusiastic as the family of 4 had been when he picked them up on a Saturday afternoon that had turned horribly wet! I hope I will never need to use its services myself but I think its a great idea. Perhaps one day the rail companies will follow their example!

6 comments on “Wight Bike Bus”

  1. Chris wrote:

    I think that's a great idea – especially for families not able to ride all of the hilliest routes around the IOW. If the story had been published a day earlier I might have mistaken if for an April Fool's joke.

    Hilary wrote: I was amazed at the negative comments that followed in the online version

    I would have thought you would have been exposed to – or at least pointed to – quite a few negative comments from the CTC forum!

    by alan harrison

    2nd April 2014, at 15:32:59

    David....."another typical moaner who wants to drive everywhere"?
    Forgive me if i,m wrong but i thought roads were designed to be driven on and paying road tax and car insurance entitled me to do so......
    but i wouldn,t crawl along 3 feet from the kerb oblivious to the world around me :)

    Counts to ten...

  2. Patrick wrote:

    Agree... a good idea. Online commenting on news articles (any subject) always seems to attract indignation from somebody. Hopefully SV will take no notice. If it works, it works.

  3. Kern wrote:

    What a great idea. I'm surprised there is enough cycling that the local outfit is willing to invest in outfitting four vans, let alone one. The Isle of Wight must have a lot of two-wheeled traffic.

  4. Hilary wrote:

    Chris wrote
    I would have thought you would have been exposed to – or at least pointed to – quite a few negative comments from the CTC forum!

    Yes I'm no stranget to anti cyclist rants but the IOW is generally pretty cyclist friendly. I was out checking the council signage for the randonnee today and every time I stopped to have a closer look at a sign several motorists stopped and asked if I was alright!

    The council have actively tried to promote the island as 'Bicycle Island' for over 20 years now. There were recent attempts to promote it as Eco Island but this went rather pear shaped when the guy behind it committed suicide after major financial irregularities were exposed!

  5. Tim Troxler wrote:

    I am wondering if you would be ok with me using the image above in a proposal I am writing to try to get bus service just for bikes to cross the Hudson river via the tunnels between New Jersey and New York City. I've done several online searches, and I'm finding that buses that have had their interiors customized for bikes are quite rare. We have a lot of buses that have bike racks for two bikes mounted on the front, but nothing like this.

  6. Hilary wrote:

    Glad to hear that it has been useful to you. The picture was taken by a friend, Alan Rowe, I have sent you an email with his contact details.

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