Taking your bike on the coach or train isn’t always the easiest of feats.
But you might need to use public transport for a number of reasons: you want to do a bike trip that’s too far to cycle to, you have a puncture, you don’t feel well or you’ve finished a tour/sportive/race and your legs are just too zonked to even entertain the idea of riding home.
Luckily, our national networks can help you get at least some of the way to your destination.
So, whether you want to get your bike around London or the rest of the UK, here’s a round-up of how to do it using different modes of transport.
Taking your bike on public transport in London
Generally speaking, if you’ve got a folding bike, you can take it anywhere at any time. Just be careful when you’re taking the bus as these bikes are only allowed on at the driver’s discretion.
As for non-folded bicycles, it gets a little more complicated. For example, you can take your bike on the Docklands Light Railway off-peak Monday-Friday. That means they’re allowed on until 07:30, between 09:30 and 16:00 and after 19:00. They’re also allowed on all day at the weekends and bank holidays.
TfL publish a map showing where you can take your non-folding bike on the underground at off-peak hours. This is a great resource to bookmark if you will be needing to take your bike on the underground. You may be surprised how much of the underground is open to cyclists.
Watch out for Prudential Ride London and the like; TfL recommends that you avoid the DLR during big events.
It’s much the same story for non-folded bikes on London Overground.
There are a couple of important caveats:
You can take it between 07:30 and 09:30 if you’re leaving Liverpool Street Station to go to Chingford, Enfield Town or Cheshunt or going the other way between 16:00 and 19:00.
As for TfL Rail, non-folded bikes can’t be taken on a train arriving at Stratford or Liverpool Street between 07:45 and 09:45 and leaving Liverpool St or Stratford between 16:30 and 18:30 Monday-Friday, except bank holidays.
If you’re riding the Thames instead, most riverboat services accept bikes on board – just let the boat operator know in advance. For those who prefer to go up and over, bikes are OK to be taken on the Emirates Air Line at any time of day.
And sorry Croydon-based cyclists, you can’t take non-folded bike on the tram.
Bike transport in the rest of the UK
Allowances vary a little here, so let’s take it by mode of transport:
Megabus says that normal adult bikes are unlikely to meet their luggage requirements and cannot be carried on coaches.
As for folded bikes, they are allowed on but they must meet luggage requirements (no heavier than 20kg and no bigger than a ‘large’ suitcase) and they must be kept in a standard bag or box in the hold. It counts as part of your luggage allowance and just because it made the journey there, doesn’t mean it’ll be allowed on the journey back.
Bikes which aren’t folded, dismantled or wrapped are explicitly forbidden from National Express services.
If you want to take a folded bike, you’ll have to pay for extra luggage in advance. Taking it on a single journey will cost you £8 and on a return journey it’ll be £12.
As a general rule, you can’t take your bike on trains during peak hours and you’re advised to book as far in advance as possible as there are often only a couple of cycle spaces per train.
Reserve your spaces when you book online, at the train station (at least 24 hours before you go) or on CrossCountry services you can reserve via Twitter and Facebook Messenger.
For more info, check the site of the service you’re travelling with or have a look at the train operators website.
On British Airways you can take a bike up to 190cm as long as it’s in a protective case, the pedals are removed or fixed upwards, handlebars are fixed sideways and the tyres are deflated.
As expected with Ryanair, there’s a fee – £60 for a bike up to 30kg if you book online or £75 if add it on post-booking or at the airport. And that’s only one-way.
EasyJet are somewhat kinder, allowing bikes up to 32kg for £42 one-way if you book online and £52 if you wait until you get to the airport. You can’t sneak other items in the bike box/bag like clothing though. Again, handlebars must be turned inwards and pedals must be removed or flush with the frame.
Flybe take bikes on a stand-by basis only i.e. there’s enough space in the hold.
If you want to take an e-bike, you’ll need to chat to cargo agent Air Logistics Ltd for guidance on 01332 819204 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If approved, the bike will need to be packed, labelled, marked, documented and consigned as ‘dangerous goods’.
It’ll set you back £30 if you book your bike on at the contact centre or at the airport.
In a lot of instances, folded-up bikes can be taken on trams and non-folded ones can’t.
That’s the case with Manchester Metrolink, Midland Metro, Nottingham Express Trams and Sheffield Supertram.
However, Edinburgh trams allow two bicycles on board at the ticket conductor’s discretion. As well as peak times, there are restrictions during the Edinburgh International Festival in August and during pre-publicised events.
Tyne and Wear Metro are holding a trial which allows cycles outside of peak times:
Cycles are now allowed on trains between Callerton Parkway and Jesmond (in either direction):
- Monday to Friday 10.00am – 3.00pm
- Monday to Friday 7.00pm until end of service
- All day at weekends
Each Metro carriage allows one bike and each Metrocar is made up of two carriages. These areas are also used for wheelchairs and pushchairs and priority must always be given to them.
Are there any that we missed? How do you cart your bike around when you’re not riding it? Let us know in the comments below.