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.
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!