This week on the Wareham to Bournemouth service I've now experienced the new cycle storage on the 5 carriage trains. The old racks for 3 bikes have been replaced with a cycle storage area with foldable seats as on the 4 carriage trains. I can understand SWT wanting to provide seats if there are no cycles but in my experience it is unlikely for there to be lack of seats in the main carriage AND no cycles so I suspect these seats will be little used. In the past there were always problems with luggage in the 3 rack area preventing the storage of bikes. By having clear space I'm sure this problem will increase. There is no signage in this area giving priority to cycles over passengers sitting or luggage and so I'm sure there will be more arguments between cycle users and other passengers. By removing the 3 racks it will make it more difficult for cycle users to retrieve their bikes from behind a pile of others. At least on the 4 carriage trains there are seats adjacent to the bikes so a cyclist can see and assist others in moving their bike. On the 5 carriage trains cyclists may end up standing by their bikes or if sitting in the main carriage continually checking if they need to move their bikes (or if completely anti-social just forgetting about it until their stop!) . This reconfiguration will not work and I wonder if any advice was sought with cycle users, groups or forums.
I completely agree. The tip ups were only put in to comply with a franchise agreement for seating. It was originally proposed that one of the bike racks were to be replaced with 4 seats around a table, which would've been even worse. But yes, I think they should've kept the bike racks, and I highly doubt any advice was undertaken from any cycle groups.
Replacing just one rack would have probably been better, to be honest. If you take your bike on a train that is busy (as I do, even though it's empty when I get on), by the time you get close to Waterloo the abuse from other passengers for "blocking the seats" is often stressful. Especially when I am only using the bike space as it is meant to be used and on a train that full-size bikes are explicitly allowed on. At least with the racks no one moaned about me stopping them from sitting down.