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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bikes crowding onto transit

Image of bicycles on Tri-Met MAX car in Portland, OR
From Oregon Public Broadcasting, 07.29.08:

TriMet Tries To Keep Up With Needs Of Bike Commuters
High gas prices are getting more Americans out of their cars, and some are even plotting a new course to work. That could mean jumping on public transit, or hopping on a bicycle. In Portland many commuters are combining those two options.

It's a Tuesday morning, and the MAX Blue line train from Beaverton to Gresham is packed. In fact ridership on TriMet has jumped more than 10 percent over a year ago. Colin Maher: "This is where we have our highest ridership, on these crowded rush hour trains."

That's Colin Maher. He's the Bike Programs Planner for TriMet. Maher says the relationship between high gas prices and record ridership is obvious...Maher says right now four percent of MAX users bring a bike, but that number is rising steadily. Colin Maher: "There's no way...we could pack more bikes on here."

No, more bikes are definitely out of the question headed into the city, but 20 minutes earlier, Cameron Adamez was doing a head count on her westbound train. Ten cyclists, with only four bike hooks to fight over. Adamez just joined the bike commuter movement a few months ago. Cameron Adamez: "I hardly ever...get to bike except on the weekends cause commuting took up a chunk of my time. But I found that when I took my bike I felt better in the morning, and I felt better in the afternoon, and it took me only an hour." (Read more, includes audio.)
This is an encouraging article. No, not because multimodal bicycle commuters are having trouble finding space on transit systems (an encouraging problem to have). But because journalists are starting to deal more substantially with the issues confronting bicycle commuters.

Much of the news coverage this year has been about the novelty of bicycle commuting--"Local Man Rides Bike to Work." In recent weeks, we've seen more articles about specific issues confronting bike commuters: challenges finding bike parking at workplaces; the issue of dressing for work; reducing bicycling injuries; selecting a suitable bike for commuting; improving safety of existing bicycling infrastructure (such as bike lanes or sharrows); and other topics.

Problems don't get addressed until attention is raised about them. There are many existing street and community conditions that challenge wide-spread bicycle commuting. It's gratifying to see the media begin to pay attention.

What bicycle commuting issues would you like to see journalists expose?

Visit: Train 'n Wheels: Caltrain Threatens the Perfect Commute,
Visit: Dallas transit agency to add bike racks to buses, Dallas Morning News
Visit: Bicycles Oversaturate Metro Rail & Busway,
Visit: City could open bike transit center, Daily Utah Chronicle (Salt Lake)
Visit: Bicycles crowd out riders on commuter rail cars, KSL-TV (Salt Lake City)
Visit: Florida: Cyclists flocking to trains, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Connecticut bicyclists fight for train access, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Bikes on rails, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Bicycling on transit in Sacramento, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Amtrak Capitol Corridor celebrates 15 years, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site


Steven Vance said...

Like the buses, they could bike racks on the front or rear of the train (the end not currently being used to drive the train).

Or on top of the train, have an arm pick up the bike.

Or do what Chicago is doing - take out seats for more standees. Haha.

Every city is experiencing the highest transit ridership in...forever. But new trains take a lot of money and a lot of time and planning. But overcrowding is good..for now.

Anonymous said...

I commute by rail and bike in San Diego. Were it not for the ability to take a bike on transit, my drive would be 45 miles each way. Were it not for the ability to take a bike on transit, it would be a two mile walk from where the train drops me off, to work.

I have experienced some of the difficulties with crowding mentioned in the articles. There is a “two-bikes per car” (one during rush hour) rule on the San Diego Trolley. So far enforcement has, fortunately, been lax. There was an effort made by transit authorities of the North County Transit System to enforce rules strictly limiting bicycle access on their Sprinter trains, but they eased up due to public opinion. My experiences inspired me to recently start my own blog on my experiences in San Diego County. I have come up with several strategies that I use to maintain a friendly relationship with my non-cyclist fellow transit riders. I hope the use the blog to share these strategies with other riders in hopes of preventing conflicts before they have a negative impact on my ability to bring my bike on the train.

I have been following yours, and it is one of the best I have found.

RJ said...

What would I like journalists to 'expose'?

Well, I'd like them to expose how NORMAL, chic&sexy bicycling is in places like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. It seems to me that journalists are still portraying bicycle commuters as nerdy people RESORTING to bicycles. Why not sexy people riding bicycles because it's SMART? Where's THAT angle??

Anonymous said...

I think the answer is for the transit agencies to provide bike racks at stations in primarily residential areas, and something like the Paris Velib for riders at destinations. That way, there would be no need to carry the bicycles on the transit vehicle in between.

Tom said...

I would like journalists to write to educate. It would be nice to see articles on bikers as road vehicles, bike laws, how to pass a biker, basic instruction to bikers to ride with the flow of traffic and obey laws, etc.

Anonymous said...

Funny, here in Atlanta, a very bike-un-friendly city, I see more and more people on the train every day, standing room only a lot of times, but if I see as much as two other cyclists, it's a fluke.

Anonymous said...

To that vince guy:
"Were it not for the ability to take a bike on transit, it would be a two mile walk from where the train drops me off, to work."

Why don't you just get a crappy bike and always leave it locked where the train drops you off for work? Then you don't have to carry your bike on the trolley and can actually sit down. I'm baffled by how many people bring bikes on the bus/train - what a pain in the ass. I guess I'd rather use two shitty bikes (for each leg) that no one wants to steal than a nice one you have to lug around in tight spaces.