"Diane E. Gayer" wrote:
> There is so much lacking to our bus design and our awareness of what the
> buses are for.
Diane has touched on an important point. Buses have a proper use.
Bikes have a proper use. So let me introduce two disturbing views of the
bike rack situation:
Cycling is not competently planned
Cycling is so discouraged and uncomfortable that riders will wait on the
side of the road for infrequent buses, gambling that one of two racks is
not already occupied. Why wouldn't the cyclist be happier simple riding
directly to the destination? That's the point of having private
transport isn't it? Average bus speeds are barely competitive with bike
riding speed, and velocity made good is worse.
Example: unless I have an errand enroute, I always beat the bus inbound
from Essex Center to UVM (about 13 miles). If I do make a stop, total
trip time by bike is just 2/3 of what it would be if I included the
errand in a bus trip.
With the speed problem, and the need to remove panniers, etc., what
would cause a cyclist to choose to disrupt their trip by attaching a bus
to their bicycle?
Buses are not competently planned
Now how could a bus operation allow bike racks? Bike racks make driving
more difficult and increase the time a bus spends at stops. Cyclists
clog boarding areas and probably decrease safety. With all of the other
things that bus drivers have to deal with, why should they have to
accept the burden of transporting bikes in racks? And it's pretty tough
for Granny to lift her 40 lb. Dutch cruiser into the bike rack. Why
must the bicycle join Granny on the bus ride?
Despite these issues, after some initial resistance, bus companies treat
these bike racks as an amenity that improves service and increases
ridership. This is weird!
Cycling and Transit are desperate. So desperate that they will accept
the bike rack sedative and call it good. It's not good. Like the
gutter-striping that our traffic engineers try to call bike lanes, it's
an indication of the poor health of our transportation system and how
low our expectations for planning and engineering have dropped...
This is enough philosophical rant for now, but be warned that I have a
I do know two good marriages of bikes and buses:
(1) Roaring Forks Transit Authority (RFTA) uses frame hanging racks on
its long-distance, express coach bus. It also allows bikes in the
underbelly baggage lockers (lying flat on the floor).
(2) Havana's Ciclobus provides a true shuttle for buses through the
Havana harbor tunnel. With wait-less, roll-on service it makes a daily
bike trip across the harbor feasible for thousands of commuters.
Next Steps in VT
Putting more than two bikes on a intra-city bus bike rack is probably
not a productive. It would increase complication and delays with
diminishing returns (like adding lanes at signalized intersections and
It would be better to concentrate on some neglected aspects of bikes and
(1) Encourage efficient bus-bike trips, by putting bike storage at bus
stops that are likely to see asymmetry in trip mode chains (i.e.:
bike-bus-walk). These would be in form of secure, all-day lockers at
extreme bus stops, or at main bus stations in dense urban areas.
(2) Encourage bus/bike touring, by putting frame hanging racks on
intercity coach buses (Vermont Transit).
(3) Establish proper free bike programs in urban areas, coordinating
bike depots with bus stops.
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