Sadly, the technology supporting this great initiative isn’t so good.
Firstly, the membership renewal process is clunkier than a Penny Farthing. I managed to pay “£0.00” no fewer than six times in trying to pay £10 to renew for September. I was actually charged £60 but did get a full refund when I pointed out the error to staff at TfGM, who were incredibly helpful. They said there’d been a computer error affecting quite a few people. Even so, the entry card STILL didn’t work.
Pedal forward to November, and the same has happened. Yesterday I was charged “0.00” for a month but assumed that it meant a tenner had been taken. I’m still not sure.
Unfortunately, clunky membership renewal was the least of my worries. There was a total lockout for cyclists arriving at the hub’s car park entrance yesterday. Neither of the two intercom buttons were of any use – Piccadilly Tower reception couldn’t help and the Edinburgh Cycle Shop people no longer seem to have any involvement (they shut their hub workshop down months ago). This being before 9am, no one could be raised at TfGM.
We eventually managed to get in through the Piccadilly pedestrian entrance, entailing carrying our bikes down several flights of stairs. But guess what? Come home time, my newly renewed membership card wasn’t working. I was only able to retrieve my bike by tailgating someone else. It’s not good enough.
Cycling in Greater Manchester isn’t perfect, particularly at this time of year. But the cycle hub should surely take away some of the hardship, not make it even more of a hassle. I’ll try again today but I’m concerned about not being able to get in.
Guided bus ways and tram line extensions are expensive components in a complicated jigsaw of fully integrated transport. But spare a bit of change to maintain the technology that supports the cyclist too, or you’ll risk alienating the best ambassadors there are for alternative forms of transport.