Front Bus Cycle Racks

[Edit 3 March 2015: We are one step closer with an actual installation happening. Expectation is a test bus available by beginning of April 2015.]

[Foreword 8th June 2015: We have now had the result from the DVSA, and it’s not good.]

CycleBath have been working with  Bath and North East Somerset Council, First group, and Wessex buses to get to a pilot to put  free front cycle racks on public buses in Bath. It is almost ready!

This has been a long drawn out process getting legal clarification from the Department for Transport, getting the bus companies, and the council on board.

Why FRONT cycle racks?

There are fundamental issues with rear cycle racks that just cannot simply be overcome:

  • They increase ‘dwell’ time significantly, that is, the time it takes to board on and off a bus by a passenger.
  • Rear cycle racks are less secure with neither the bus driver or the cyclists easily able to watch the bikes.
  • Rear cycle racks, by their nature make your bike dirtier.

Front cycle racks overcome all these issues and have been used throughout the world for over 20 years with no issues.

The Pilot

We are finally at a stage to begin the process of putting a pilot together.

  • Potential bus routes have been identified based on non-use of the bus station, as well as ensuring the length of the bus below kept below the legal length of 12.5m for a 2 axle bus.
    • First 13 ( Fox Hill)
    • Park and Ride ( Lansdown, Odd Down and Newbridge)
    • University 18 Wessex buses (First buses are too long)
  • Meeting between the engineers in the bus companies and the cycle rack representative is being arranged.
  • Awaiting information from bus companies as to the number of buses (determines how many rack mounting plates to buy) used on a route and how many are on the route at any one time (number of racks needed).
  • Funding options are being explored with local organisations that have an interest in getting racks on certain routes.
  • Funding back-up plans are being considered:
    • Fund raising on a per route.
    • LSTF money as a last resort (2016/17)
  • Define the pilot launch:
    • Public education on use of racks
    • Measure levels of use
    • Identify any difficulties in use
    • Issues bus companies have racks.
    • Lots still to be done.
    • Length the pilot should run for.

As you can see it’s rather complicated drawn out process and there is still rather a long way to go. We hope you are as excited by this as we are!

Bath lends itself to  cycle racks on buses and it’s a great place to demonstrate their use.


  1. Perhaps you should have asked CTC about this and checked out BANES files from around 15 years ago. You won’t get any DVSA examiner to pass any bus with a VTP5 (or COIF for a new vehicle) with a bike rack on the front, as with a bike on it violates several C&U conditions, and the report TRL 592 (free to download) went into this in great detail in 1997.

    By far the simplest solution is to deliver what is already being delivered in Wales, Cornwall, Cumbria, Northumbria, South Yorkshire and Scotland on buses, and even more widely on coaches for longer journeys (Including I suspect the Kings Ferry commuter services from parts of Bristol and BANES area to Parkway and the Eastern flank employment sites (Filton/Cribbs Causeway etc).

    1) Use some of the funding to deliver a Brompton Dock or two in Bath, to offer folding bikes that can go on any bus/train/taxi as part of longer journey. Have an account for staff use by University/Council/major local employers, as part of bigger plan to reduce, costs of staff travel, carbon emissions, and land that ‘earns’ poor rate of return becuase it is used for car parking.

    2) using existing low floor buses run pilot scheme to allow cycles inside bus outside peak times – this can be writen in to all contracts for Council supported bus services, as it is with Western Isles Council wher you can put a bike on almost every local bus service. Buses require minimal modification and in 1998 DVSA COIF/VTP5 examiners confirmed that they would accept buses with shuitabel facilities to stow/secure bikes in passenger saloon. Essentially 100% of bus fleet can be used with minimal cost to add fetures that secure bike and protect windows and surfaces from scuffing/dirt. Suggest a pilot scheme to take bikes on night services, especially where cycling on unlit rural roads presents a known hazard, and disincentive for many to cycle back after inbound ride in daylight.

    3) express coaches – establish protocol and sfe stopping points where bikes can be loaded in the underfloor hold. In Scotland reported as up to 10 bikes on 50 seat coach delivers 20% of potentially new business.

    Talk to me and others who have done this work 20 years earlier, and have been using bus services with bikes for around 30 years.

    You should also get BANES to review their taxi licensing to provide for all taxis to be capable of carrying up to 2 passengers with bicycles. I’m working with Cycxi on a system which enables secure and clean carriage of cycles in a standard wheelchair accessible taxi. Surveys reveal that many less confident cyclists would use a bike more often if they had the certainty of a taxi to get home late at night or when they had a problem with the bike. This especially the case for women who may want to avoid riding through certain places late at night – this obviously also applies to bus services.

    • Just to counter your argument about cycle racks being illegal on the front of buses is one of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome. The Minister for Transport initially stated she had no issue, and then I had the DfT in consultation with the International Vehicle Standards have provided me with an official statement that they ARE legal. I’m happy to provide this to you.

      As to the Brompton dock and the idea of taxi use….nothing like quite understanding the issue of inclusive cycling. We need something that lets the people of Bath ride down the hills and pay £3 to get home on any bike.

  2. TRL 592 represents the ONLY time that any commersial vehicle in the UK has been subjected to the equivalent of ENCAP testing for pedestrian impact, and it revealed several issues whcih are not readily resolved, and the US manaufacturer of the racks would not accept the detail that UK Standards could not be brushed aside as they had done in some US states.

    A key detail is Council Directive 74/483/EEC of 17 September 1974 where the random nature of having no control of the type or condition of the bicycles on the rack, this key detail cannot be complied with. namely:

    5.2. The external surface of vehicles shall not exhibit, directed outwards, any pointed or sharp parts or any projections of such shape, dimensions, direction or hardness as to be likely to increase the risk or seriousness of bodily injury to a person hit by the external surface or brushing against it in the event of a collision.

    5.3. The external surface of vehicles shall not exhibit, directed outwards, any parts likely to catch on pedestrians, cyclists or motor cyclists.

    5.4. Subject to the provisions of items 5.5, 6.1.3, 6.3, 6.4.2, 6.7.1, 6.8.1, 6.10, below, no protruding part of the external surface shall have a radius of curvature less than 2.5 mm.

    5.5. Protruding parts of the external surface, made of a material of hardness not exceeding 60 shore A, may have a radius of curvature less than 2 75 mm.

    The maximum length for a rigid bus is now 15 metres, with the proviso that it still fits within the concentric swept arcs defined for a 12m vehicle, this generally being achieved by the tri-axle designs commonly in used having a rear steered axle. The same detail applies to an articulated bus (max length 18 metres)

    In 1996 we establioshed that a folding bike rack is classed as a receptacle and provided that its swept envelope remains within the limits set can extend up to 2.5m beyond the front or rear faces of the vehicle, subject to the qualfication noted in exception j (receptacles) of 1986 C&U regulations.

    With the extension of maximum length to 15m the full lock outswing of the rear corner over a plane along the side face of the bus when setting off from a position parallel with that plane is 1.2m (the cause of Edinburgh’s first tram-coach crash, when a coach turned left with a tram coming up alongside).

    One of the big differnces between US and Europe is the low value placed on pedestrian welfare, and the equally rare presence of pedestrians where these buses operate. Several US systems did/do not carry bikes on downtown sections of their routes. TRL 592 highlighted the detail that of all vehicles using the UK roads network buses have by far the highest ‘hit rate’ for pedestrians than any other class of vehicle. In London 8,500 buses (or bus drivers use of them) are putting 1 person per day in Hospsital and killing 1-2 pedestrians per quarter. At the time there was a serious concern of the added hazards presented by front mounted bike racks and lack of realistic risk mitigation.

    A crude figure based on numbers alone suggests buses hit pedestrians at over 40 times the rate that taxis do but this figure may be raised by the fact that buses tend to operate more often in streets busy with pedestrians than taxis. (Both buses and taxis are on the streets of London 24 hours per day with a larger exposure period than say a private car which is on the road for less than a tenth of the time that a typical bus is)

    • I honestly think you need to look up the term ‘pilot’ and understand that your type of objection, based specifically on choosing one country and not the 20+ other countries that use front cycle racks (including most of Europe) make any difference. This is a PILOT for a reason.

  3. Hey folks! I represent a small group of cycling enthusiast who strive to get the B.O.B. policy approved and bike allowed on transit buses in Bulgaria. We have made a research and found out that legal constrains impede bike racks on the front of buses throughout all of Europe. I was excited to see that you guys have achieved a substantial progress in bringing the racks on buses and will greaqtly appreaciate if you could spare some time to share with us your experience as to legal issues, social and administrative support or resistance and anything that you might see valuable to help us speed up our Pilot project and bring our fight with municipal and Dept. of Transport officials to success. I will be most grateful for feedback or arguments from the International regulation authorities and/or UK regulations that allow bikes on buses. You can respond to or

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