TAKE ACTION: Politicians and cycling organisations reject Eurostar cycle restrictions

Eurostar has changed way its customers can travel with bikes; making it much more difficult, if not impossible for people to travel to Europe with their trusty steeds.  They’ll be demanding that people dismantle their bikes and pack them into boxes before travel; rather than hanging complete bikes on hooks; which is how they’re taken at the moment. We think this is a huge step backwards.

As part of our opposition to Eurostar’s new regulations we want to hear your views on the new rules and whether they will encourage you or discourage you from using Eurostar.

Tell Eurostar what you think about the new cycle restrictions, fill in our survey

We want them to rethink, but need to show them just how many customers would be affected. Can you dismantle your bike safely? Would the new policy prevent you from travelling with your bike? Does the ferry now sound like a better option?

Please add your voice to our survey

Background Information

The list of opponents to Eurostar’s cycle carriage restrictions grows daily, just as Eurostar is adopting the rules ahead of schedule in October.  Cycling Organisations including LCC, the Mayors of both London and Paris, as well Members of both Houses of Parliament are united in their opposition to Eurostar’s new restrictions on cycle carriage. 

Instead of hanging complete bicycles on hooks as before, Eurostar is demanding cycle owners dismantle them and pack them into boxes. It’s a retrograde step and London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, rightly said: “I am writing to Eurostar asking them not to end their simple, effective bike carriage service used by thousands a year… It is a backward step, which undermines Eurostars green pretensions.”

Eurostar says the new policy is designed ’to be fair to all customers’ and will enable them to carry more ‘shopping.’ But the new policy may simply deter the growing number of cycle tourists who would choose to travel by Eurostar for a holiday, or business trip, using a combination of cycle and rail, rather than using a car for the same trip and thus adding to congestion and pollution.  Even airline travel, which rarely requires wheels to be removed, could become easier than taking a cycle on Eurostar.

Eurostar says customers can bring their own boxes which will be accepted but if a Eurostar supplied box is used, both wheels have to be removed, pedals removed and handlebars twisted sideways. As experienced cycle tourists know, removing wheels carries a risk of the bike frame and forks being bent. 

When Eurostar opened two decades ago, LCC campaigned to have cycles taken on board.  We won that right of carriage though we did not secure a guarantee that a cycle owner and his or her bike would travel on the same train.

It took yet another campaign, by LCC and its local groups in alliance with CTC, to persuade  Eurostar, in 2008, to carry bikes on the same train as their riders. There was a fee but, sensibly, cycles could be presented at St Pancras (the new Eurostar departure point in London) in assembled form and they arrived at their destination in the same shape.  Demand from cycle users soared by 300% as a result.

Carriage of complete cycles is vital to anyone who lacks the skills, tools and facilities to dismantle a bike. Disassembling and reassembling a cycle takes time and skill, and if done incorrectly, can mean that a cycle is dangerous to ride. Eurostar says staff may be able to help but responsibility for reassembly is the customers.

The new Eurostar policy is quite evidently discriminatory.  People with disabilities, those who use adapted cycles, and those who use their cycle as a walking aid, will be particularly disadvantaged by the new rules. Cycles that are hard to dismantle such as older roadsters, ubiquitous in countries like Holland, as well as recumbent cycles, used by many people with disabilities, will effectively be barred from Eurostar.  Eurostar bluntly says that if it’s not in a box it won’t be taken on Eurostar.

 

Could a cargo bike like this be easily dismantled?

Adapted cycles, or cycles used as mobility aids would be problematic under the new policy; would they need to be disassembled and packed away too?

Does Eurostar really want to have a discriminatory policy that selects customers on the basis of their cycle-mechanic skills and  excludes  potential travellers without such expertise?  To thrive, a business needs to improve access for customers rather than make it more difficult. 

As part of our opposition to Eurostar’s new regulations we want to hear your views on the new rules and whether they will encourage you or discourage you from using Eurostar.

 

 

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