Pedaller

Reckless Cycling at Fleet Station

No dedicated space for cycling was built in the bus and taxi area at Fleet station.

Sign at entrance to Fleet station.

UPDATE: Front page news in Fleet! See the updates section below.

I queried South West trains again about various issues at their Fleet, Hampshire station as a follow-up to my posting a few months back: SouthWest Trains erects The Great Wall of Fleet.

Unfortunately, the South West Trains customer service centre in Southampton did not give answers via their twitter account or via email within their stated timeframe. So, I chased them for answers through my MP. Today, my MP forwarded to me a reply, dated 1 August 2014, from the South West Trains managing director, Tim Shoveller.

Apart from building the Great Wall of Fleet, South West Trains have been busy erecting a new station building, bridge and lifts at a cost of £4.3 million (according to their June newsletter). The car deck is one of 3 projects in a separate £6.3 million scheme to increase car parking spaces at Fleet, Farnborough and Winchester stations.

Fleet station had secure cycle storage (seen on the right side of this photo taken in May 2012)

Fleet station had secure cycle storage (seen on the right side of this photo taken in May 2012)

SECURE PARKING NO MORE

Fleet station used to have a secure bicycle storage facility on the platform next to the old station house, but that was demolished soon after the rebuilding works began; I asked whether it would be making a return.

Tim said,

“The information regarding cycle storage at the station is a very new scheme and the final details have not yet been finalised. We will update our passengers when this information is complete.”

The secure cycle parking was closed in June 2013 and later demolished.

The secure cycle parking was closed in June 2013 and later demolished.

I’m not clear on what Mr Shoveller is getting at there because South West Trains have won awards in 2011 for their secure cycle compounds – 3 years ago now – and as the photo here shows they had secure cycle storage at Fleet already.

(See updates section below regarding the proposed new motorcycle parking in its place)

During the construction over the past year, people who cycle have received no special attention – unlike the people eligible to use new “VIP” car parking spaces – and indeed saw their cycle facilities closed off, or in the case of the secure storage removed all together.

This also isn’t the first time I’ve had someone at South West Trains tell me that their plans for works already underway are not yet finalised!

No dedicated space for cycling was built in the bus and taxi area at Fleet station.

No dedicated space for cycling was built in the bus and taxi area at Fleet station, where MD says only people cycling recklessly are allowed.

RECKLESS CYCLING

Speaking of awards, in 2012 South West Trains picked up an award for their “cyclist-focused measures including clear signage.”

I asked about signage at the new Fleet station’s bus and taxi drop-off/pick-up area that is located in front of the entrance to the new station; The signs state that only taxis and buses may enter – why not people on bicycles?

Tim said,

“…there is no signage in place and indeed nor should it be used by cyclists unless doing so recklessly as the area is used for bus pick up and turning in addition to the taxi use. Cycles can be ridden along the same road as the car use, or pushed along the footpath.”

Construction material fills the area where secure cycle storage once was.

Construction material fills the area where secure cycle storage once was.

This from the company that won the “2013 Cycle-Rail Operator of the Year” award for their “constant innovation and positive customer attitude.”

It is a shame, to say the least, that Mr Shoveller didn’t think to accommodate space for cycling – say a dedicated, segregated path – in his plans for the front entrance to his spiffy new station.

Instead, all energy appears to have gone into his Great Wall of Fleet car parking deck.

BLENDING IN WITH GREEN PAINT

Speaking of The Great Wall of Fleet, which is visible from the Fleet Pond, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the car deck is now largely complete and open. It is a massively long and high structure that dominates the scene from around the pond.

Tim told me through my MP:

“the car desk (sic) was installed to meet passenger demands and I am sorry your constituent finds it an eyesore.

With the trees in full bloom the car park blends in and the green paint helps.

If the trees and shrubs are allowed to grow along the blank, and not trimmed, then the coverage will improve further.

The structure is as long as we could practically build in order for there to be a positive improvement for our customers and in order to maximise and make the most use of the DfT’s funding. The height is to allow our Alliance partners Network Rail to access the track access gate with large vehicles. This is essential I’m afraid.”

Passengers had been told in November 2013 that the cark deck would be complete by March 2014.

Passengers had been told in November 2013 that the cark deck would be complete by March 2014.

There’s probably no way of knowing how passenger demand changed (or not) at Fleet station over the past couple of years. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the number of passengers going through the station stayed roughly the same? What I mean by that is, I wonder if people when forced not to drive to the station (for the car parking became severely limited during the construction works) chose instead to walk or cycle there; but now that the option to park their car has once again been made available, that they have switched back to driving.

I am surprised that all the local planning officers, councillors and nature organisations permitted a car deck to be built here at all, instead of on the northern side of the tracks which is in a more suburban landscape.

Maybe there were plans to do that, but they hadn’t been finalised in time to get the funding from the Department for Transport?

I guess I will now never know because Tim concluded his letter by stating:

“Due to the amount of correspondence with (sic) has taken place regarding Mr Reeves-Hall’s concerns I am sorry but believe we have reached an impasse now and there is no further information I can provide.”

UPDATES

The issue with bicycles and the Fleet train station redevelopment made the front page of the Fleet newspaper on 28 August 2014. Click to read story online.

This topic made the front page of the Fleet newspaper on 28 August 2014. Click to read story online.

Update – 28 August 2014: Front Page News!

I made the front page of Fleet News & Mail newspaper…

Update 14 August 2014: Original Plans

a) Looking back through the planning documentation, I found a letter dated 4 January 2012 from Robert Thain, Senior Planner at Hart District Council in which he stated: “Hart would also kindly request that in light of the proposal there is no overall reduction in the number of bicycle spaces to be provided for customers.”

b) The station plan drawing dated 5 May 2012 produced by amey for Network Rail shows new motorcycle parking bays near to where the secure bicycle storage was – note that access to this area would be impossible given the current signage which allows only people driving taxis or buses to enter (or riding bicycles recklessly according to the MD).

New motorcycle parking in place of secure bicycle storage is shown in the plans submitted to Hart Council for approval.

c) That same plan includes the comment, “Cycle & Pedestrian Crossing [in the bus & taxi only area] Location of crossing to be finalised under forecourt remodelling works” – I hope that SouthWest Trains and Network Rail take this opportunity to create proper space for cycling at the station forecourt.


Aside: The 2014 Cycle-Rail Awards are taking nominations until 12th September 2014 – details HERE.

9 comments for “Reckless Cycling at Fleet Station

  1. Jim Moore
    August 24, 2014 at 13:01

    I know it won’t help your case or probably your piece of mind over this, but we have the same type of vicious, vindictive jerk-wads where I live too. You had good bike parking and lost it, which is shameful. Our authority built a brand new train station, in the middle of a brand new transit-oriented development, and installed exactly zero bike parks at it. “Very expensive, not cheap, those bike parking facilities” was their official response for not putting them in, at a train station that cost $8 million Australian dollars.

  2. paulc
    August 28, 2014 at 09:54

    having seen the new layout, “Premier” parking slots 1 to 8 could very easily have been given over to a covered Dutch style double layer secure bicycle storage

  3. Annabel Redfearn
    September 1, 2014 at 11:21

    I’ve emailed my MP about this as SW Trains are being very unforthcoming. I also contacted Get Hampshire some time ago, who didn’t act on my comments but interestingly have now done a piece by this guy, see below.

    http://www.gethampshire.co.uk/news/local-news/cycling-commuter-hits-out-revamped-7697527

    I note, in my journey to London every weekday, that much of the top deck of the new decked parking is empty while I’m still having to chain my bike to the railings of the foot bridge.

    • AndrewRH
      September 1, 2014 at 12:15

      That’s me! 🙂

      • Annabel Redfearn
        September 1, 2014 at 12:26

        Well done for getting your comments noted! I’m in total agreement and really rather fed-up with their car-centric attitudes.

  4. Floodie
    September 5, 2014 at 17:30

    Hi,
    I cycle and walk to Fleet station. You rightly challenge the cycle storage provision, but the biggest disappointment for me in the station redevelopment is that there is still no safe way for pedestrians to access the station. Cars enter the station road network far too quickly from the roundabout making crossing hazardous, and departing cars often bully their way out of the station with uncomfortably close passes to pedestrians walking alongside. It is all too apparent where SWT’s prime interests lie – commercial revenue from car drivers, rather than safety of their customers once beyond the station building itself!

  5. Walter Happy
    September 5, 2014 at 18:54

    1, I paid for and own a card for entry to the secure bike park area and was informed that a new one would be provided.
    2, I shall call a meeting at once of my CTC Right to Ride colleague together with representatives of Fleet Future and Fleet Cycling,

    Wally Happy

  6. September 7, 2014 at 10:07

    Access by bicycle to Farnborough Main Station is also a problem. Entering the station via Union Street( travelling westwards coming in from the A325) once in the station area the cycle parking is to be seen ahead of you (slightly to the left) but there is no obvious route to the parking for cyclists. Do you cycle through the bus lanes? The most convenient route but signs states buses only and there is conflict with pedestrians once through the bus lane. Do you follow the route into the car park? This takes you away from the cycle parking and continues doing this unless you cycle against the traffic up a ramp which is signed no entrance. There is no obvious correct way of reaching the cycle parking by bike unless I have missed something. The good news is that once the parking has been reached it is fine.

  7. Annabel Redfearn
    September 8, 2014 at 10:29

    I think it’s really encouraging to see other people’s thoughts and comments. If we all contact our local MP and/or Tim Shoveller, the MD of SW Trains, it will at least alert those in authority that people really care about this.

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