Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System
Bicyclists on light rail in Seattle, WA. http://www.pedbikeimages.org/ - Sound Transit
Bicyclists can extend the length of their trips by combining their travel with train or bus service. The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) estimates that the catchment area of a bus stop or train station is expanded to two or three miles for someone arriving by bike. However, the bicycling portion of the trip becomes less feasible if there is no place to safely park a bicycle before riding transit, or if there isn't a way to take the bike onboard. Facilitating bicycle access on transit vehicles and offering bicycle parking at transit locations are key aspects of bicycle-transit integration.
Front-mounted bike racks are the most common way for transit agencies to carry bicycles on buses. In 2010, 72 percent of buses in the U.S. had exterior racks for bicycles, according to the American Public Transportation Association. These racks generally carry two bicycles, but some agencies use racks that can accommodate three bikes. Some local bus services also allow bikes onboard when bicycle racks are full, after dark, or when bus service is infrequent. Most rail systems provide some accommodations for bicycles. The most common approach is to allow a certain number of bikes on each rail car as long as the bicyclist remains with their bike in a designated area. However, bicycle access is often prohibited during peak travel times. Each transit system sets its own policies and rules. An increasing number of transit systems are providing rail cars with special bicycle racks or hooks for bicyclists to store their bikes. Depending on the design, rail cars can hold dozens of bikes, which is especially important along heavy commute corridors.
The availability of safe and convenient parking is important for bicyclists riding transit. Bike parking can be as simple as an inverted U-rack adjacent to a bus shelter (with enough overhang to protect the bicycle from the elements), or more sophisticated like a system of pre-rented lockers. Bicyclists have a strong preference for secure, sheltered parking that deters theft and protects bicycles from inclement weather. The basic inverted U-rack is the minimum requirement; otherwise bicyclists will lock their bikes to anything they find, including the pole the bus schedule is mounted on, making it inconvenient for passengers accessing transit on foot.
It is critical that transit stops and their surrounding environments are safe and accessible for all users. Some consideration also needs to be given to the on-street riding conditions around transit stops. For many transportation officials and advocates, this means conducting audits and improving routes leading to transit stops and stations so they are safer and more appealing for bicyclists.
This strategy promotes bicycling by greatly expanding the range of accessible destinations. It also promotes transit use, by expanding options for accessing and using transit.
Bicycle racks suitable for buses typically cost $500 to $1,000 for a model that can carry two bicycles. Allowing bicycles to be brought onboard rail cars comes with little or no capital cost.
Authors and Acknowledgements