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  1. #1
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    "Overcrowding crisis on our trains"

    Found a copy of a paper on theTube that carried this interesting story:


    First Great Western (FGW) trains to and from the capital were so crammed that a third of passengers were forced to stand on some services.

    Of the worst 10 in London and the South East, the busiest part of the rail network, three are services for Oxford.

    The figures, from the Department of Transport, show that the 6.14am Oxford to Paddington service was the second most overcrowded train on the network last year. It has seating for 321 but had 482 passengers, a load of 150 per cent of the seats.

    We travelled on the 5.52 service between Paddington and Oxford last night and commuters were standing in the aisles. Many said this was the norm for them on the journey home.

    Mark Maddox, 43, from south Oxford, said: "It can get jam packed with people standing in the carriageways and the vestibules. Sometimes you can't even get to the exits."



    This is sympamatic of the whole network, so I guess that my search for a folder is really going to have to centre around small folding 16 inchers. A pity as it removes some great options but I don't fancy trying to get something bulky onboard if my route is anything like this.

    Manufacturers' R&D take note. The problem is only going to get worse, so don't leave us with the only real option of the premium priced Brompton.

    In this case small is beatiful after all.

  2. #2
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    I found this on Flickr last night - it seems Nikishi is adding another Brompton Clone to the mix...

    "Nishiki Oxford, the other Brompton. €720 EUR in Barcelona (Catalonia), €470 EUR cheaper than the equivalent Brompton model."



    Not sure if it's the same as the Merc/Flamingobike but it's similarly equipped.

  3. #3
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    How appropriate and timely

  4. #4
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePixel
    Not sure if it's the same as the Merc/Flamingobike but it's similarly equipped.
    In fact looking it over, it is identical to the Flamingo.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  5. #5
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    Even sheep get better treatment than we do on trains. And they still have campagns to protect the sheep.

  6. #6
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    While commuter train (the local term is "Metro" in DC) usage is up in the area, I find that generally crowding is not that bad. Particularly if you exercise a little flexibility in your schedule. Leaving 30 minutes before or after the peak time can make a difference.

    Although, just to lend a little support to your statements, there are some restrictive capacity constraints to the system.

    • Most stations have the capacity to house 8-car trains. However, there are some that can only handle 6-car trains.
    • Turns out that some of the tunnels connecting DC to the suburbs only have one track such that outbound and inbound traffic have to share the same track.


    So yes, better keep the bicycle in fine working order ...

  7. #7
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    If we factored in the 30 minute rule it would mean leaving at 0530 and returning from 2000. And even them the trains can mysteriously be crowded.

    The whole network is poorly managed and there is little evidence of the ability to problem solve. It's a regular complaint that a train pulls in with only three carriages and is packed solid as it pulls out. The platform can take 10 carriages, so why not add another one so that passengers can breathe if not sit?

    One day I did a very boring calculation, but it did stop me focusing on the back of the head of the person 30cm in front of me. If every passenger standing was a season ticket holder and if every rush hour train along the route was as crowded, the company stood to lose approx 50 million per year if those season ticket holders thought enough was enough.

    They've also done away with the guard's van, which was used for post and had enough space for several full size bikes.

    "Let the train take the strain" was the advertising slogan. I bloody wish!

    As I said, it really does narrow down my choices for a folder, which is a pain as I hadn't set my heart on a Brompton.

    If I want a Brompton, I need to order by the end of this week. I had been thinking about a Birdy, Mu SL and Curve SL among others

    Any additional advice on viable alternatives?

  8. #8
    Bicycling Gnome
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    It's a Flamingo with a different label. It's the FL B02-O3 model ie a Merc.

    Grace Gallant, the manufacturer has an exporting agent who seems to sort out the badging type issues for the exclusive agents they set up in the countries where they have agents.

    The exporting agent is Miss Jane Hsu.


    The featured bike is however being sold for a lot more than Merc sell theirs at, albeit this is a model with upgraded brakes. As far as I can see that and the 12 alloy tensioner is the only difference, but the GB pound equivalent price is 480. Merc sell for 330 on ebay. That's how I got mine. Their website price is 400.
    Last edited by EvilV; 07-13-07 at 01:17 AM.

  9. #9
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ningnangnong
    "Let the train take the strain" was the advertising slogan. I bloody wish!

    As I said, it really does narrow down my choices for a folder, which is a pain as I hadn't set my heart on a Brompton.

    If I want a Brompton, I need to order by the end of this week. I had been thinking about a Birdy, Mu SL and Curve SL among others

    Any additional advice on viable alternatives?
    Curious ... where are you writing from?

    You have not written so explicitly; but I assume that you want to take your bike on these crowded trains. Although, it would be the case that you want to use your bike to avoid these crowded trains.

    Keeping things simple for the moment, assuming that you want to bring the bike onto the train, and restricting yourself to just the Birdy and Brompton, the Birdy is a much better ride but bigger/slower fold. Moreover, the Brompton is better at carrying stuff and can be rolled while folded with the addition of some "roller wheels".

    The Dahon Curve has its own unique properties ... less expensive in the US, excellent carrying capacity, bigger fold than the Brompton, best support network in the US out of the three. I have not ridden one; but others seem to like it. Regarding the Mu, I don't see how you can bring a 20" folder on those trains.

    The Downtube Mini is a viable option here in the states. But my understanding is that shipping it overseas is expensive.

    Others have discussed the Strida, A-bike, and a few other teeny folders. I know little about them; but my understanding is that they might be appropriate for you.

    If the bike works for you ergonomically, then the Brompton seems to be the obvious choice for a utilitarian bike.

    Now if you are getting a bike to avoid the train ... well, we can save that for another post.

  10. #10
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Do you remember when the passengers revolted and produced their own fake tickets marked 'Worst LATE Western' instead of First Great Western?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...23/nrail23.xml
    Last edited by EvilV; 07-12-07 at 07:49 AM.

  11. #11
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    As EvilV just posted, Merc is an excellent option to the Brompton. Particularly if you are less certain about your commitment to multi-model cycling. They are less expensive and you can get one quickly.

    -G

  12. #12
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand
    As EvilV just posted, Merc is an excellent option to the Brompton. Particularly if you are less certain about your commitment to multi-model cycling. They are less expensive and you can get one quickly.

    -G
    You can have one in red or black in two days time for 330 + 12 postage.

    I'm doing 20 + miles a day on mine at the moment. I've had the odd niggle, but nothing more than I'd expect from any bike that is hammered around on a daily basis. PM me for a detailed list of the issues I've had in 2000 miles. The seven broken spokes and the replaced chain tensioner are nothing to the pleasure I've had from owning it. Seven spokes cost less than 3, and the tensioner was replaced for free. Still not one puncture.

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Merc-3spd-long...QQcmdZViewItem

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the comments.

    I thought my gripes might have indicated that I'm in the UK.

    I didn't go into folder specifics as I have done before but I'll recap:

    Use now: 3.5 miles - busy train - 3.5 miles, each way, once a week.
    Future use: As above, 3-4 times per week
    Budget: To 1000
    Purchase: New and through Government scheme, so unless LBS stock it, some brands won't be available
    Clothing: Sometimes casual, sometimes suit
    Rack?: would prefer not to and find alternative for carrying kit
    Fitness: High
    Riding style: Fast
    Like the look of: Birdy City/Touring; Mobiky; Curve SL; MU SL; Jetstream P8 ; Ti Brompton; Strida 5 - but single gear is the turn-off

    EvilV - I certainly do remember that. The "tickets" were a great idea as well.

    Maybe our motto should be "Wolf in sheeps' clothing"

  14. #14
    Senior Member JeremyZ's Avatar
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    If the trains are as crowded as you say, any 16" folder is going to be way too big. The floor space it takes up will be one less person who can fit on the train.

    Only a Strida or A-Bike would work in that situation.

    How far does the train go? Is it realistic to bike the whole way on a full size folder or stiffy? How about purchasing a scooter? I hear those are popular in England... (won't help with slow traffic like the train will though)

    Maybe this is a silly question, but can you find out who to write to about boosting the train service? I suspect they don't listen too well, but a letter a week might help. Maybe a petition.

    Public transit is one area I thought Europe really has us beat. I thought major European cities were really up-to-date on keeping those systems useful.

  15. #15
    rhm
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    I take my DT Mini on trains that can get very crowded indeed; in fact I go out of my way to be among the first to get on that train, lest I not find a place to stash the bike (there is a spot between the backs of two seats that face away from one another; I want to put the bike there, and sit in the seat facing the front immediately in front of the bike). Getting the bike on the train is not terribly difficult; but I go an extra mile, literally, to get to the station (Hunterspoint Avenue) where the train originates, so I don't have to change trains later on (Penn Station, in Manhattan, would be more convenient; then I'd have to change trains at Jamaica, Queens). Getting the Mini onto the train at a time when some 400 other people are trying to get on the same train, can be prohibitively difficult. Last Friday, for example, that train was jam-packed, people standing in the aisles so close together they couldn't even sit down on their suitcases. I believe the conductor would have made me get off the train if I'd tried that. But I was already on board, the bike safely out of sight, no problem. Whew!

    I realize, Ningnangnong, that you're not enthusiastic about the single-speed Strida; and I realize that where you live a DT Mini is not an option for you; but I have first-hand experience with both, and the Mini is so similar to the Dahon Curve SL (in size, weight, fold and ride) that my experience with it is relevant to you. And my finding is: though the DT Mini is a great ride, and though it DOES fit on the train, it's much more troublesome on the train than is the Strida. If my train was already crowded when I got on it, I would be riding my Strida. The difference between the folded size/convenience of the Strida vs. the Mini is breathtaking, cannot be exaggerated, I mean it's almost beyond comparison. And the Strida is an excellent bike for riding 3.5 miles in a suit; it's really quite zippy and fun, even if your top speed is (only) around 15 mph.
    Last edited by rhm; 07-12-07 at 09:04 AM.

  16. #16
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    JeremyZ

    My train isn't that bad, fortunately. But space is a premium so it may have to go behind the seat or at my feet, assuming I can get a seat.

    Riding to London isn't feasible and a scooter is not viable. Too far, too slow.

    Strida 5 - possibly, but one gear only? A-Bike? Cute, but those wheels on UK streets and one gear only?

    The over-crowding is being addressed by action groups and the Government, apparently. But then who trusts anything this Government says

    Having used public transport all over the world, ours is about the worst. Crowded, dirty, badly ventilated, unreliable, expensive.

    My requirements are not for a 5-day a week commute into London, but once there the Tube is ****e and a bike, fabulous. I'm not convinced there is a perfect folder/solution for me but I'm completely open to the expertise and persuasion of this forum.

  17. #17
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Given the short commute, the Brompton/Merc sounds best if you think you are going to incorporate the train. If you want to ride further, the Birdy is probably the best bet. Both are a 10 second fold when you get used to them, but the Birdy occasionally get cantankerous (one in 100 folds, the chain falls off). It's between the size of the Brompton and Dahon. In the UK, quality bikes are more cost-effective than Dahon models because the price differentials are smaller.

  18. #18
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    ..
    Last edited by makeinu; 11-24-08 at 08:04 PM.

  19. #19
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    I do not think it is a problem with crowding so much as when and if a folding bike (even with 16 inch wheels) can be intergrated in a ever changing situations. Here in Southern California, most people of means use cars exclusively and only use public transit if they are forced to. So we are not socialized into proper public transit usage. This means it is a free-for-all with fighting for bike racks, bike space, space for baby buggies, crap people bring on buses/trains etc.

  20. #20
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Weren't you test-riding folding bikes, like, 3 months ago?

    No one is going to make a brand-new folding bike design in the next 4 weeks, so just narrow your priorities and pick something up. Which, apparently, should be "small fold." After all, "fast" is an irrelevant quality for a commuter bike. You're riding 7 miles a day, which does not require a Trek Madone 5.2 or a Cervelo Soloist Carbon.

    You want small? Brompton is your best bet. Not small enough? Get an A-Bike and spend the rest of your cash on an entry-level road bike for the weekends.

  21. #21
    Senior Member doktoravalanche's Avatar
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    There's no point in worrying about folded size when you know somebody is going tob e there with a double buggy and 15 suitcases and expecting to be let on first. Get whatever bike rides best, if it folds its allowed on the trian, so just look a bit grungey and bundle to the front... i commute via FGW - my tip for happy multi-modalling is try and get in the coach with the wheelchair bay - theres always a bit more room, and most of the time there's no wheelchair aboard. And they're often in the 'quiet coach' whcih is also generally less crowded.

  22. #22
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ningnangnong
    I thought my gripes might have indicated that I'm in the UK.
    I figured as much; but I thought that former British areas such as Hong Kong and Australia were a possibility too.

  23. #23
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    Yes, I did say a few weeks ago that I would be test riding, but as you've probably seen on the news/weather, it has been horrendous and many areas flooded.

    I have finally managed a test ride and borrowed a S2LX, unfortunately in Flamingo Pink!

    Intial impressions:

    Size:
    Deserves it's reputation for the compact fold. Everything folded into a parallel form, which is a real plus for small spaces. Other brands could do with thinking about this as not all spaces on public transport are fan-shaped.
    Fold:
    Idiot proof.
    Form/wow! factor:
    A bit of wow! but let done in some areas. Cheap looking m/guards, although 2007 look better. Cheap pedals and reflector. Little details which shouldn't matter but do. Take a company like Audi - everything matters and it shows.
    Ride:
    More fun than I had anticipated. However, unless the road surface is perfect, it felt like I was running a very under-inflated tyre. I keep changing my mind about the 2 speed. Sometimes I think the 2nd isn't high enough and then I think, no, it suits most situations unless really wanting to hammer along.
    It was wearing Brompton tyres - I guess this is a weak link?

    Will I get one?
    If I could afford more than one high quality folder, Yes. But I can't right now. So I'm unsure. On looks alone I really want the Birdy but all the LBS say that on the train, unless you're prepared to stand in the vsetibule on a regular basis, the only real option for a seat on the train is a Brompton. I still want to measure the space in case a Birdy, Curve SL or MU SL would fit. Donwtube Mini would be great but there's no support in the UK.

    The Mezzo I am still unsure of because of the larger and lob-sided fold.

    Damn the trains. Make bigger spaces for bikes
    Last edited by ningnangnong; 07-16-07 at 04:55 AM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ningnangnong
    The platform can take 10 carriages, so why not add another one so that passengers can breathe if not sit?

    As I said, it really does narrow down my choices for a folder, which is a pain as I hadn't set my heart on a Brompton.

    If I want a Brompton, I need to order by the end of this week. I had been thinking about a Birdy, Mu SL and Curve SL among others

    Any additional advice on viable alternatives?
    The reason they may not put 10 carriages is due to the fact that some platforms may only be able to support 9 cars.

    As for alternatives, how far is your journey and does it involve hills. If it's less than 3 miles with no hills, the Strida would be better than the Brompton. It can roll easily and takes up less space. The verticle position of the folder makes it better for a crowded subway.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeremyZ
    If the trains are as crowded as you say, any 16" folder is going to be way too big. The floor space it takes up will be one less person who can fit on the train.

    Only a Strida or A-Bike would work in that situation.

    I was thinking along the same line too. The A-Bike is fine if you're under 5'7 and weight less than 160 lbs.

    Is there another train he could take that isn't too crowded. The OP stated the distance covered is less than 4 miles! This isn't that far but then again, he is taking a suite. Since the Brompton does not come with a chain guard, the Strida looks much better.

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