MSPs saddle up to support cyclists' drive for bicycle carriers on buses

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THE campaign to get bus companies to carry bikes on their vehicles has won high-profile backing from MSPs.

Cyclists have long called on bus firms to carry bikes on board, either inside or strapped to the outside.

Now Green Lothians MSP Alison Johnstone has taken up the cause after hearing about the difficulties of reaching the Glentress mountain bike centre near Peebles using public transport from Edinburgh.

She has put forward a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling on bus firms to provide bike racks for both leisure and everyday journeys and has won the backing of fellow MSPs, including Edinburgh Central SNP MSP Marco Biagi.

She said: "I was contacted by a constituent who said he wanted to use public transport to get to Glentress, but found it virtually impossible with his bike.

"Bicycle racks are used on buses in the United States, Australia, Wales and some big European cities.

"I just think that if we're serious about encouraging cycling, then it's the sort of thing we should be doing here.

"I'd like to see the city council speak to Lothian Buses about this. Putting bike racks on buses is not exactly radical, but if we're serious about cycling, we have to start doing more to encourage cyclists."

Edinburgh is one of the few cities in Europe to have signed the Charter for Brussels, which aims for 15 per cent of journeys to be by bike by 2020.

Last month councillors approved moves to allow cyclists to use the pavement in some areas of the city where there are no on-street cycle lanes.

Mark Sydenham, of the Better Way to Work campaign, welcomed the latest initiative, but said racks did have their limitations. He said: "It would be great for certain routes, but not necessarily on every bus. I have seen it in action in San Francisco and it works really well.

"The bus pulls up and you put the bike on the rack. It has its limitations because it has the capacity to delay buses and that's why bus firms have been reticent in the past, but I've seen it working well.

"It would be ideal for the likes of Glentress. Mountain biking has really taken off and you'll often see the road between here and Peebles packed with cars on a Sunday morning. It would be good to get all those people on to buses."

In other cities where racks are used buses will usually carry just a small number of bikes at one time.

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