Bicycle Blog #4 – Brompton Folding Bike
In London, my “Bikes on Board” research continued as I took a train from London Waterloo Station to Kew Bridge where I could walk to the Brompton folding bicycle factory. There I met with representatives from the Brompton Dock program. If you google that term and poke around, you will see a smart looking set of lockers that each has room for a Brompton folding bicycle. The Brompton Dock program is run like a city car share program where one becomes a member and then pays an access fee based on a plan. If you look up those plan prices, those are UK prices and all set up with for-profit railway operators –if rail operators participated in a program like this, they would be able to customize their access and membership program. There are just a few Docks out in the world and only in the UK, at this time. Later this year there will be about 35 more placed in rail stations that feed into London and other locations. It is still ‘early days’ in this but given the cost of the Brompton Docks, which can be supported with grants that come filled with a certain number of bicycles (more can be ordered), this sort of bicycle lease/membership program seems pretty ideal for Capitol Corridor service. Over the coming year we expect to monitor the expansion in the UK and will do our diligence to see if a system like this is a good match for the Capitol Corridor service. As we mention on the web site, this is a great way to provide people last mile mobility, promote a healthy green lifestyle, and save space on a train if a bicycle is taken onboard. Like we have said, we love folding bikes!
On June 12, 2012, I arranged another meeting through Hannah to meet with the folks who were responsible for the Cycle Hire program in London. Audrey Bowerman, a USA transplant from North Carolina, works for TfL and oversees the expansion program for their extensive City Hire program. When I mention extensive (these are the blue Barclays sponsorship bikes shown in the picture above), I do mean EXTENSIVE. When I was on vacation, I rode one of these and other than a small information flow snafu on the screen, I was off and cycling sans helmet to get back to the hotel. Later in the day, I used another biketo go see some music. So did I mention extensive? Yes. These stations are EVERYWHERE. So how did they do it and what did it take?
Audrey gladly answered those questions since Capitol Corridor has been thought of by cities as an ideal partner (and hub location) for their own Cycle Hire concepts. And even a CCJPA Board member asked about this for Capitol Corridor as we were discussing the options for dealing with bicycle crowding on the train. From my experience “extensive” is the operative word for London’s program. This was truly a massive effort tailor made for London’s travel patterns and some travel patterns that simply can’t be addressed such as the demand for these at train stations – there simply are not possibly enough open spaces for these at the train stations serving London to keep up with demand. All in all, what I saw here and knowing land use patterns, travel origin-destinations in the cities we serve, a good match for a Cycle Hire program may be more difficult to come by. Thus, it does seem like the Brompton Dock solution may be a better fit for the Capitol Corridor as it has more immediate advantages. In addition, we can certainly support and engage with cities along the route who may look to our service as a natural partner.
My final research meeting was with Peter Bowes of Virgin Trains. Peter was part of the team that helped to establish a Brompton Dock at the Manchester-Piccadilly Station located several hours away from London. He described how their initial launch was going and how they were looking to go in even deeper with the Brompton Dock moving ahead and with the stations/communities they served.
All in all, a busy two days of bikes and trains, with me getting around using London’s amazing transit system.