Cycling and Combined Mobility – Part 1

Aquabus ferry, Vancouver BC, Granville Island, Quick way to downtown©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Aquabus ferry, Vancouver BC, Granville Island, Quick way to downtown
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Cycling Creates Demand for Transit and Bus Trips

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Why should transit system operators regard cyclists as their friends and consider cycling an important source of transit ridership growth?  Why should transit system operators see cyclists as a source of revenue growth?

Why are there still transit system operators in North America without bike racks on buses?  Why are there still transit system operators that do not ensure that high quality cycling infrastructure and cycling networks are in place bringing cyclists to their transit stops?

Cycling is a ridership generator for transit.

Prague CZ, Subway system, Cyclist entering car©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Prague CZ, Subway system, Cyclist entering car
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Well, cycling and Combined Mobility with frequent-service and efficient trip-time transit can wean people from a car-oriented environment, at least to the extent of weaning from a second car.  Verbal declarations and declining gasoline sales while transit ridership has been increasing is evidence of this in Vancouver.

People, who choose cycling first as the transportation mode of choice for the next trip, will generate transit traffic.  These cyclists will take transit under a variety of scenarios, such as, inclement weather, darkness, and time available to complete a trip.  Then, there will be just personal preference to complete a trip by transit, rather than to continue cycling.  Transit ridership increases when more people are moved from driving to cycling instead.

Appealing to cycling customers

Cycling provides a flexible alternative to jumping into a car.  Walking to a local community bus stop, wait for the bus, then sit on the bus until it arrives at a higher service frequency route takes time and requires a great adherence to bus schedules.  Local buses usually have infrequent service, a barrier to converting people to transit.  With cycling to stops of transit routes with higher frequency of service, a cup of coffee can be finished; the last news items can be heard; a discussion can be completed before departure.

What draws people to cycle to a transit stop?  People like to cycle when there is little fear of not getting there.  They like to cycle in a mellow state.  They like to be sure that their bicycles will be waiting for them at the end of the day in the same condition as they were left.  They like to be confident that their bicycle will get them home without delay.  If transit system operators want to encourage Combined Mobility with cycling, then they have to ensure that high quality cycling infrastructures and networks are in place leading to transit stops.  The transit operators need to ensure that strategies, plans, and funding are part of transit and community transportation plans to ensure that people perceive relaxing and safe ways are in place to their transit stops.

Combined Mobility of cycling and transit

(cycling with buses, trams, rapid transit, commuting trains, ferries, taxis, etc.)

Vancouver BC, TransLink, Canada Line, Bike spaces in cars, Family combining cycling and transit©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

Vancouver BC, TransLink, Canada Line, Bike spaces in cars, Family combining cycling and transit
©Photograph by H-JEH Becker, 2012

An effective transit system that draws people as customers is not just about providing buses, frequency of service, and schedule.  It is also about drawing people to using the transit service.  Marketing the transit system is effective.  Combined Mobility with cycling is an effective way to do that, as well.

Combined Mobility is an important tool for increasing cycling traffic and for providing motorists with a viable alternative to driving.  In a Combined Mobility trip, cycling provides a option with flexibility to the schedules of buses that makes this type of trip a viable alternative.  Cycling can be the first leg, the intermediary leg, or the last leg of a Combined Mobility trip.  High quality of cycling infrastructure will determine the success of attracting people to cycle or to undertake Combined Mobility trips, which includes cycling.

High quality of cycling infrastructure and network, what does this mean?

Buses – Having racks with capacity of two-bikes on all buses is not enough for Combined Mobility to flourish.  3-bikes racks should be the minimum.   Depending on demand level, other means of carrying bicycles may be appropriate for some routes – inside vehicles, on back of vehicles, bike trailers.

Bike parking at transit stops – Bike racks at stops should be provided for bike parking rather than stop sign posts or adjacent trees, some covered from the elements, some with various levels of security, some enclosed, some light, some with access-controlled and monitoring.

Bike racks, bike cages, bike lockers, and bike stations at transit stops, stations, and employment areas offering a variety of security levels for cyclists.

Cycling network – Trip time and directness are important factors for increasing cycling for transportation traffic and to transit stops and stations.

Cycling Infrastructure – Appealing cycling infrastructure on-road or off-road providing quality access from trip origination or destination to transit stops and stations with trip information signage and cycling-route maps are some of the features that should be provided.

Stop and station access– From the street to the stop is the simplest way for convincing people of the haste-free use of Combined Mobility trips.  No fear of car traffic, no conflict with transit riders, and no barriers transitioning from the street to transit stops, is the way to go.

Real-time information – Cycling provides great flexibility for travelling to transit stops, especially when bus tracking and arrival time at stops are easily accessible from home and work through cell phones and other devices.

What about Combined Mobility of cycling and cars?

It also has been shown if downtowns are configured effectively for cycling and with the right parking fees structure (high), then cycling and Combined Mobility with cars, in this case, will reduce downtown car traffic significantly.  Just let a city provide free parking about 6 or more kilometres from downtown along a bike trail (water edge, river banks, rail trails) and the downtown cycling traffic goes up, car traffic goes down, and the need for peak demand bus is deminished.  Calgary is a good example of this.

What about Combined Mobility of cycling and taxis?

In some cities, taxis need to be outfitted with bike racks.  Usually a bike rack consisting of a post that mounts on a hitch ball and carried in the trunk does the trick.

What about Combined Mobility of cycling and ferries?

Convenience attracts ridership.

What about Combined Mobility of cycling and public transportation?

It extends the range and flexibility of CycloTourism.  CycloTourism makes contributions towards the local economic viability of cities, towns, and communities visited.