Don't blame the folders

By Rosee Woodland | Monday, May 5, 2008 11.00pm

Commuters who favour folders are apparently to blame for increasing bouts of train rage, according to the BBC website.

Rail passengers travelling into London have been whinging to the Beeb about the amount of space commuters with Bromptons and Dahons are taking up.

Of course, with statements like "some riders are dropped off at the station in a 4x4", it's an article designed to provoke reaction rather than deep thought and admittedly does yield some space to the views of bike commuters themselves.

But it really is missing the point. People who cycle to and from train stations, carrying their somewhat unwieldy bikes on board, should be applauded, not maligned.

They are simply trying to help undo the horrific damage caused to our fragile planet by the motor car, 4 X 4 or otherwise.

While you'd never catch me riding a folder - the hills in my home city are steep enough already thanks, I do admire the fortitude of the folding cyclist.

They are giving up the perceived convenience of four wheels for a journey at either end which may see them soaked in rain or sweat, or sideswiped by some myopic lorry driver.

Cyclists, even inconsiderate ones who block aisles and doorways, aren't to blame for overcrowding on trains. Train companies are the ones we should be pointing the finger at.

It's train companies who, rather than increase the number of carriages, have hiked fares repeatedly in an effort to cut overcrowding (because that works so well with fuel prices and car use...).

It's train companies who fail to install sensible cycle parking, leaving riders to stuff their bikes into unsuitable luggage racks, or fight for space in the single area given over to bikes. Recently I went to put my bike into a train carriage in the West Country only to discover half a dozen railway workers had installed a table and chairs and were busy playing cards where riders should have been parking their two wheels.

If anything we need more folding cyclists. Only with increased demand and pressure on space will rail operators finally do their job and give us what we all need - a bit more room.

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