Railways and Cyclists (and more 1897)




 In the many letters you have published on the above subject I have not seen any suggestion as to how the present system might be improved. Being a cyclist I sympathize with cyclists, but I am not one who travels every day I also sympathize with “the general public.” Seeing the large number of bicycles now taken from place to place by trains and the value of them, surely it is time the railway companies give them some consideration. I would suggest that to certain trains as extra van or vans be attached especially for cycles, the company advertising in their tables by which trains cycles would be carried. The cyclist would not necessarily have to travel by the same train; let him label his machine and take a ticket for it in the ordinary way and when the cycle arrives at its destination let the company take care of it till it is called for, when on production of the ticket and the owner signing for the machine it could be handed over to him.

            I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

            Bexley, Sept 21                                                                       ELTRYM




May I be allowed to put this question from another point of view? Supposing that in the not far distant future small steam engines, with a limited power of endurance, become the means of individual locomotion, will it be the duty of the railways – as seems to be the opinion of the cyclist now – to take them each for the reduced charge of 2d because this may be the charge that is made in France? We cyclists must remember that our machines are competing with the railways. And I confess to thinking it a most humorous idea that we should approach the railway authorities and say, “Please to give us a lift for a short distance for a trifle, so that we may cut you out in the long run.” Cycles are expensive machines, awkward to handle in a hurry and in a crowd they take up a great deal of room. A lady’s machine in a basket crate seems to me a most appalling article for any modest individual to say, “That is all mine,” and it seems to be unreasonable to ask that cycles should be carried for a merely nominal charge. Everyone would agree that if the railways undertake their carriage it must be with all reasonable precautions for their safety.

                                                            I am, Sir, yours,

            September 21                                                                                      J. F. G



There are truths on both sides in the discussion which is proceeding in your columns.

To convey a cycle by train as luggage is an experience that I dread above anything in the shape of traveling and I frequently ride many miles rather than undertake it.

The very simplest remedy for the existing state of things, which causes annoyance to passengers, the railway companies and their servants alike, would be for each company to have a few brake vans (even closed trucks would well suffice) fitted with simple floor racks to hold machines, ready for attachment to any train that is likely to have any number of cyclists as passengers. This would simply be making a similar provision for what I may call “extraordinary” train traffic to that which is made for carrying horses and the like.

The expense of providing such a modest addition to existing rolling stock would be a mere nothing to the railway companies.

            Yours,                                                                                     F. B
The Times, Wednesday, Sept 22, 1897; pg. 9


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