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Combining bike and train travel for longer commutes

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Article posted: 27/08/2013

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Most people associate commuting by bike with short journeys - perhaps a few miles tops. However, combining the bike and train means that suddenly long distance, door to door, car-free journeys are a possibility.

Instead of the highway hypnosis of motorway travel, you can get your daily exercise fix as you pedal to the nearest station, then relax on the train segment of your journey, taking the time to catch up on the news, do some work, listen to music or do the crossword before another short hop commute from the railway station to your place of work.

Get acquainted with your rail provider's cycle policy and cycling facilities.

Some rail companies require pre booking, others don't allow full sized bikes at all.

Here are some hot tips for anyone considering the bike/train commute:

1. Get acquainted with your rail provider's cycle policy and cycling facilities. Some rail companies require pre booking, others don't allow full sized bikes at all. Others have very minimal cycle storage on their carriages, others are much more accommodating.

2. Consider a folding bike - a good quality folding bike will be reliable, efficient and enjoyable to ride and yet fold up small enough to fit in the luggage rack of most trains. A folding bike means that you can get on practically any service, any carriage and even when the train is pretty packed. The smallest folder, the Brompton, is ideal for train/bike commutes

3. If you don't fancy a folder, get a cheap second bike for the far end of your journey. Having two bikes, one for each segment of your journey is another viable option. You can keep your ‘good bike' for the ‘home segment' while your ‘beater' bike can live at the far end of your journey. Make sure you get a good lock for both and park them somewhere legal and secure. Many railway stations are improving their cycle storage facilities to encourage bike/train travel.

4. If you do take the bike on the train - do a dummy run commute so you can get familiar with your route, how much time it takes to get to the platform with your bike, and the position of the cycle carriages on your chosen route. Then, when you do it for real, the experience will be as stress free as possible.

5. Consider hiring - Brompton Dock has folding bike hire at a number of railway stations and other key locations throughout the country. Bike & Go offer a similar hire service from an ever expanding number of railway stations, using Dutch style hire bikes perfect for short journeys in smart clothes. Newcastle upon Tyne has a similar scheme run in a partnership between Scratch Bikes and NE1.

Useful Links:

National Rail: Cycling and Cyclists | List of UK Rail Operators | A to B Magazine's UK Bike/Rail Travel Guide

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