People don’t live, work and play at bus stops and train stations. This seems obvious, but we tend to think about journey times in terms of getting people between transport terminii. In fact the real measure of effectiveness is point to point journey time – how long it takes people to get from their home to work, for example.
When Vancouver looked at point to point journey time a couple of years ago, it radically affected their view of how bicycling integrated with public transport. If a commuter can bike to the bus stop, put their bike on a bus or train, then bike to their destination at the other end, journey times are drastically shortened, and the investment in bike racks for buses made economic sense. As a result, all Vancouver buses have bike racks, and they’re well used – about one bus in three will be carrying a bike. Trains also take bikes (though there are some limits during rush hour). So during my research leave at the University of British Columbia, I could ride one way into the city, then ride public transport back. The racks are quick and simple to operate, and there is no extra charge.
In NZ we’ve only just changed the vehicle regulations to allow bike racks on buses, and so far only Christchurch has taken advantage of the change.
Wellington has a number of routes where bike racks would work well. I suspect a lot more people would commute from Brooklyn and Karori into the city if they knew they had the option of riding a bus back up the hill. And think how the carbon emmissions for getting to Makara Peak would decrease if mountain bikers could put their bike on a bus, instead of driving to the overcrowded car park.
We’ve been told that it would be too expensive to outfit Wellington’s bus fleet with bike racks, but this ignores the point I started with – people don’t live, work, or play in bus stops; but if they can bike to and from the bus stop and take their bike on the bus, the effectiveness of the bus is greatly increased – this makes the investment worthwhile!