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Video: "Insanity" - cyclists protest British Rail bike ban 37 years ago today

Riders use bikes to block entrance to rail operator's head office...

The BBC has posted archive footage to Twitter from 37 years ago today of cyclists using their bicycles to block the entrance to British Rail’s head office in protest at bikes being banned from rush-hour trains.

In the footage from 2 January 1980, one of the cyclists says: “We believe that it’s absolute insanity to have this ban imposed now at a time of energy shortage when in fact commuting with your bicycle on the train is the most efficient way to go to work.”

The BBC reporter points out that British Rail were “a trifle embarrassed” at the demonstration, given that two years earlier they had encouraged people to take bicycles on trains by allowing them to be carried free of charge.

Nowadays, of course, it’s the norm for non-folding bicycles to be banned at busy times – and even when it’s quieter, advance reservations for them are required by franchise holders such as Great Western Railway.

Meanwhile, the mass cycle parking put in place at stations such as Cambridge by Abellio Greater Anglia reflects the Dutch-owned company’s desire to shift commuting cyclists who use the train towards the Netherlands model of not taking a bike on the train at all.

For those heading to London at least, that’s easier now due to the Santander Cycles scheme which means they can leave their own bike at the station, take the train, then complete their journey on a hire bike.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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