At a packed meeting on Friday 12 February, the Greater Manchester “Integrated” Transport Authority (GMITA) agreed to look again – and more carefully- at finding ways to allow cyclists to take their bikes on trams. Further, the GMITA also agreed to ensure that the bureaucrats who serve them will in future “undertake full consultation with representatives of the Cycling Organisations and the 10 District Councils.”
In MCFly 35 (“On your bike”) we reported that despite a 2002 promise to ensure bikes could be taken on trams, the Capital Projects committee of GMITA had nixxed the idea, without even reading the relevant report on the subject, which was not released until after the vote was taken.. Campaigners swung into action, with MCFly readers and others writing to GMITA Chair, Councillor Keith Whitmore to request he look again at the issue. They were told that that couldn't happen. But things changed on Friday 12th. The morning saw an imaginative stunt by campaigners, who took ironing boards and deckchairs on board a Metrolink tram to prove their point, before attending the GMITA meeting.
Two resolutions were passed unanimously. One, from the chair of the Capital Projects committee that had made the initial decision on a 7 to 5 vote, “set up a small working group of two Conservative Members, two Liberal Democrat Members and two Labour Members which will also call on advice from Greater Manchester Cycle Campaign and the Love Your Bike campaign and the ten district councils and local transport user groups to discuss the contents of the Mott Macdonald report and examine any safe ways in which cycles can be carried on trams and [then] report back to the Policy and Resources Committee of the Authority in due course.”
The other resolution instructed bureaucrats to look at what can be learnt from European
Light Rail systems, and to estimate costings for converting existing trams and to produce “a plan for the experimental introduction of off peak bicycle carriage”
This victory for common sense, won by dedication, tactical frivolity and intelligence, has opened up space for proper discussion of the issues. Fights like this, against bureaucratic insolence and political inertia, will have to be won many times over if we are to make low-carbon choices the easiest ones for Mancunians.