Bikes Belong in Buses

Shawn Bird

Photo courtesy of Lane Transit District

Shawn Bird Lane Transit District Shawn Bird positions his bike inside a new Flyer EMX articulated bus in Eugene, Oregon.

By Sarah Ripplinger

Some cyclists embrace the cooler, wetter winter months as an occasion to make use of rain gear long stowed away in bins or tossed to the back of coatrooms and closets. Others, like me, find the drip drip of droplets on our faces (and foreheads) to be a somewhat more subdued form of water torture. When the rain really starts to pour, some of us may opt to strap our trusty steeds to the front of a bus. Fumbling with the heavy racks, we smile as the rain soaks us toe to ear and the hydraulic arm that is supposed to reach over our front tire feels like it’s rusted through and through. It doesn’t have to be so. When I was living just outside of Dresden back in 2000, I rolled my bike right on through the sliding doors at the back of the bus. The ride was really smooth and there were plenty of handholds to keep me steady. This service was mostly offered on buses headed to outlying areas and not as much for short-distance travel within the city. So, for the most part, there was plenty of room for bikes because the buses were not packed with people. Lane Transit District in Eugene, Oregon (www.ltd.org) is presently testing out a bike rack system at the rear of their New Flyer EmX articulated buses. The same could be done in Metro Vancouver. While major bus routes like the 99 and 98 B-Line are always packed to the brim, buses headed to the North Shore, Richmond, Surrey, Burnaby and New Westminster would better serve cyclists if there was enough space for them to bring their bikes on board. Not only is the service easier to use, it could allow more than two cyclists to hitch a ride – at present, only two bikes can fit on Metro Vancouver’s bike racks. Another plus is that your ride stays dry and safe beside you! More needs to be done to make cycling infrastructure a priority in Vancouver. Even the new Canada Line light rail service allows only one bike on each car, even when more space is available. Integrating cycling into mass transit services means people can commute without cars from further distances. It also means less congestion on roads both in the downtown core and on highways heading into city centers. It’s time that we start talking about how to better integrate the two services. Too often it seems that bike and bus routes are at odds: competing for road space and not necessarily converging where they should. Yet both are important alternatives to the automobile. For transit and bikes to effectively serve the masses, a symbiotic relationship must come to pass. Keep those spokes spinning,

Sarah Ripplinger

BC Editor

Momentum Magazine

Originally published in the Nov/ Dec 2009 issue of Momentum Magazine and on momentummag.com.

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