Bike racks on buses: which routes?

Councillor Ponter has asked us for suggestions for a Wellington City bus route on which to trial bike racks on buses.

Which suburbs/routes do you think are good candidates?

Bike rack on Christchurch bus
Image by Schwede66 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CopyLeft GFDL



32 thoughts on “Bike racks on buses: which routes?

  1. atom

    looking into the how this has worked in other cities, i’m now of the opinion that they should just “go for it” and put racks on all buses.

    this is very encouraging –

    if they have to start with only some routes there are logistical obstacles, probably the biggest of which is that go-wellington buses are not in captive service. eg a particular bus may be going up the hill to brooklyn one day (or in the morning) and going partway around the bay the next day (or in the evening). certainly, there’d more demand to carry bikes up the hill.

    are all of the valley flyer buses traveling between the hutt and CBD? if so, that would be a great place to start a trial. but really, the more i read about bikes-on-buses in other cities, the more it seems like a good idea to go all out with bike racks.

    the question i’d like to ask isn’t about trial-routes, but about whether they’ll get racks that hold two bikes or three. in most places where bikes-on-buses has been implemented, limited carry capacity has become the biggest problem. in other words, these programs’ only failing is a result of their success 😉 and high demand for rack space.


    1. Please put them on the 91 going to and from the Hutt to Welly. Would love to just take my bike on my photoshoots and not have to do the Harbour drive if I didn’t want to.


  2. Lisa

    For my two cents, I think Brooklyn and Karori would be good trial routes. Karori particularly, because it would capture commuters and mountain bikers.

    @Atom – As far as I can tell, the number 14 route (Kilbirnie->Wadestown) has buses in captive service, and I think the Strathmore->Khandallah route does too. Regardless of this, there would still be options. If they were installed on, say, three buses, I’m sure it would be possible to guarantee those buses were servicing a particular route at peak times.

    I agree that it seems sensible to just go all out and install them. I can’t think of a single bus route in Wellington that wouldn’t benefit from having bike racks (yes, even Aro Valley!). But I get that it’s a bit of an ask for GWRC to take it on faith – regardless of other cities’ experience – and spend tens of thousands of ratepayer dollars on something that you and I are sure will work.

    I’d guess that the failing of over-success is one that GWRC would happily accept 🙂


  3. Megan

    Not being totally familiar with the bus routes (since they won’t take my bike), I checked out the network map at Metlink:

    Looks like there is a bit of redundancy of routes, so an efficient trial would be those routes that cover the same ground but have the most distant terminus into the suburbs. And of course, the Valley Flyers.

    Nice report Atom. I love the inclusion of health benefits in these cost/benefit considerations. It’s about time the personal health benefits of daily riding (or even every other daily riding) are taken seriously, and how these benefits accrue to the broader society.


  4. jo

    I would think that the Hutt Flyer with racks would be very well received and suitable for trial

    also #3 From Karori Park (via Newtown) to Lyall Bay would capture a huge number of city commuters. It would be handy for recreational mtb riders as well, linking Makara Peak and Mt Vic.
    The only downside I imagine is that a three bike rack just wont be enough in rush hour…

    I’ve used the racks in Vancouver and found it a brilliant idea to avoid otherwise hazardous road sections (eg narrow bridges, tunnels, or highways).


  5. Carolyn

    Anywhere with big hills or scary bits of road to negotiate.

    – Up the Brooklyn Hill, Ngaio Gorge, Ngauranga Gorge.
    – Along the Hutt Road to Petone

    Fantastic idea.


  6. Lee

    Great or hear GW are finally considering a trial!

    For routes, i agree with you all – any where with significant hills ( #3 Karori is a good one) and hazards (valley flyer), although lets try not to replicate the rail routes where there’s a whole other issue with bike carriage going on!

    Does anyone have more detail of when it might commence, and which type of buses it will work on? – just the new trolleys I guess? that will limit the routes; also lets try to do everything to make the trial successful and suggest routes most likely not to encouter hitches, grumpy motorists & bus drivers or anythins else that might impact negatively.

    I really hope the bus company are onboard and this is not thrust upon them!


  7. This is so fantastic, I always want this to be an option, espcially since the weather can turn so terribly in wellington.

    I would push for All buses going past Victoria University campuses, as well as Karori, Seatoun, and the Hutt Flyer.

    Additionally, wellington should remove the ban on full sized bikes during peak times on trains.

    I really hope this goes through!!! Bike racks on buses would be outstanding!


  8. Liz Springford

    Preferably bike racks on all buses, but if a trial is really needed, then there’s lots of good suggestions coming through like Brooklyn Hill, #3 Karori to Lyall Bay & back, Hutt Valley #91, up past Victoria University, and up Ngaio and Ngauranga Gorges.
    Probably important to have a good-sized trial, especially to publicise the change. It’s a harder publicity challenge since this will be just some buses, not all.
    Also re change and helping ensure the success of the trial, could bus drivers in the trial get some sort of acknowledgement of the change they’re helping? Eg. bike bonus? some leeway in bus travel time?
    And agreed, go for the most generous rack bike possible. Perhaps at some stage think about an online and/or text booking system. I can see some situations where bikers might need certainty before deciding to use their bike one way. As an analogy, pedestrian users of public transport would be less keen if there’s a good chance each time that their bus is full and they have to walk home. Or other pedestrians discover sometimes they can’t drive home because the road is randomly closed that hour.
    It’s about thinking of cycling as just another form of transport – where safety, convenience and certainty matter too.
    PS: I like the support of cycling-as-sport too by being able to take bikes on buses to Makara, and reducing the need for car support. And eventually bike-racks on buses up Rintoul Street would be lovely (plus real cycle lanes of course and space for buses to pass each other easily).


  9. atom

    @liz – there is a chicken and egg problem that you’re pointing out with integrating bikes-on-buses. looking at how this BOB infrastructure was been utilized in other cities over the last ~10 years make me incredibly confident that wellington is bursting at the seems to put BOB infrastructure to good use.

    that’s why i’m sharing my opinion with the council critters (ya’ll should share your opinions, too!) that we should look at other cities, skip the trial, and jump in with three-bike-racks (as much as three-bike-racks are possible). this would maximise cost savings through the economy of scale that comes with fitting ~500 buses at once and minimize FUD about where/when to catch a bus.

    as you point out, cyclists need certainty about where/when to catch a bus with room for them and their bike. check out the two reports (linked above) – i think “phase two” of integrating BOB will be that some routes become “too successful” and require cycle parking at bus stops along the route. practically, this would probably need to be addressed reactively, eg when ad hoc parking at a bus stop demonstrates the need for proper parking racks.

    the first step is to install as many BOB racks with as much carry capacity as soon as possible!


  10. eleanor

    Allowing bikes on Wellington’s buses is a brilliant idea! Anything that encourages more people to cycle in this city can only be good for the future of the transport system. More people on bikes means less people in private vehicles, which surely means better traffic flow. I’m no expert, but I’m sure this logic can’t be too far off the mark. Also, the more cyclists there are, the safer it will become to cycle, as drivers become more aware of us and more used to sharing the road with us (and hopefully more respectful towards us too).

    Lots of good ideas for the trial have already been proposed in the above comments, but I would be most in favour of the Karori route, which will provide a service for commuters and recreational cyclists alike. I live in South Wellington and don’t have a car, and therefore rarely visit Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park as it involves so much road riding just to get there and back. I would most definitely use a bus service that meant I could put all my energy into riding off-road.

    That said, I think that the most important reason to allow buses on bikes is to make commuting to work by bike something that is as accessible as possible to the greatest possible number of people. Wellington is a very challenging city to commute around by bike, and persuading people out of their cars is no easy task. I would love to eventually see Wellington become so cycle friendly that the average office worker no longer sees commuting to work by bike as a dangerous thing to do.

    Our narrow roads, hills, wind, and high car ownership (which requires a lot of on-street parking) must all make it very challenging to find workable solutions to creating a cycle-friendly environment, but I am sure it can be done, as it has been successfully done in other cities around the world. Allowing bikes on buses would be a great step in the right direction. The more ‘normalised’ cycling becomes (ie, the more the infrastructure supports it), the more current non-cyclists will accept it, perhaps try it themselves, and be happy for yet more space to be made for it.

    In the above comments, Liz makes a point about the bus drivers receiving some sort of incentive to get them used to waiting for people to load bikes onto their buses. I agree that something will need to be done for the drivers to help them accept this new inconvenience to their job. It’s already a stressful enough job, and the drivers are constantly under pressure to meet the timetable – I can really sympathise with them if they now have to accept yet more pressure to their day. I would think that the attitude of the drivers would be fundamental to the success of the trial. One or two bad experiences with stressed bus drivers may be enough to put a future committed cycle commuter off the whole notion.

    Anyway, I would love to see bikes on buses become a reality in Wellington. This is a great idea and I so hope any trial is super successful.


  11. Rebecca

    Suggest prioritising by hilliest/most populated areas first? E.g. Karori, Hataitai, Wilton, Khandallah
    The #1 bus route would be also be good.


  12. Meghan

    This is a brilliant idea. I motion to have all buses equipped with racks. However, if you are considering the portion of the population with the highest likelihood of uptake, you might consider areas with students and young families.

    And honestly, I’m inclined to ‘vote’ for the routes I use most often (#3, #18, #1, #43 plus Brooklyn and from Wellington CBD to Petone/Lower Hutt).


  13. Claire

    I think the Brooklyn route would be a good place to start, given the steepness of the hill and the fact its the odd route out in the way it doesn’t go along Courtenay Place, allowing more space for pick ups. In terms of the best place to get them on the bus, I suggest the Victoria St stop outside R and R, or the one up by the Mill where there’s a bit more room and less bus traffic coming and going. it’s not a big deal to ride to a stop slightly out of the inner-CBD with more space to put them on and probably less stress for the driver.

    This has the potential to overcome what people say is one of the biggest barriers to cycling in this town – yeehaw!


  14. Eamon

    #3 to Karori!! I think this would be extremly popular with the mountain bikers in Wellington who want to venture up Makara peak, and dont own a vehicle/want to endure the 3 1/2 round trip from town. Come on Celia stand up for your fellow bikers!


  15. Simon Kennett

    The was a report on Bikes on Buses done back in 2009 (before Cnr Ponter became a councillor). There were a bunch of issues identified – operational issues and expense being particular concerns. Cherry picking certain bus routes within one company’s list of services may not be practical (because specific buses are not dedicated to specific services). Still lots of problems to solve before this becomes a reality in Wellington.


  16. atom

    @Simon Kennett – can you point out what you mean by “lots of problems to solve before this becomes a reality in Wellington”?

    i think the biggest problem is that some people think it will be a problem. the only (potentially real) problem i can see is that some routes might require changes to on-street-parking to ensure that buses have adequate turning radii with racks.

    i agree that the logistics of a trial might not be practical, but check out these reports –
    and then tell me what i’m missing when it comes to fitting all of the buses with racks. particularly, those reports put cost, ROI and operating issues to rest. maybe i’m being overly optimistic, but after reading those, it seems like the only sensible thing to do is get the entire bus fleet fitted with racks as soon as practicable. worst case scenario, the way i see it, is that we might have some windy roads that prohibit the *use* of bike racks on a short section of a route; eg bikes would have to be removed and the rack would have to be flipped-up. otherwise, every problem you can possibly imagine would be an issue in wellington has been addressed, and really isn’t a problem.

    otherwise… i think we can, i think we can, i think we can!


  17. Fantastic to see how much support this idea has! Good comments. I agree with the two big commuter hills (Karori and Brooklyn) being a priority. Karori especially is a pretty daunting ride home. At least the Hutt has availability of the train (though space is a problem!!)

    But yes would like to see as many as possible.

    Great idea Wellington!


  18. Simon Kennett

    The perceived and/or real problems (call them ‘issues’ if you like) include:
    1 – The limited space available on some Wellington streets (i.e. inadequate turning radii, as you say).
    2 – Finding space for additional patrons on services which are sometimes already overloaded – or scheduling extra buses (at significant expense).
    3 – Finding the money to fit all of the buses with racks – about a million dollars – unfortunately a positive BCA doesn’t generate the money we want for cycling projects.
    4 – Convincing Go Wellington management and drivers that bikes on buses aren’t going to be more hassle that they are worth.

    Just because these things have been addressed elsewhere by other authorities doesn’t mean they aren’t real problems to be overcome in Wellington. I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t have bike racks on buses, just that we need to recognise the challenges ahead.


  19. Srikanth

    Definitely a big Yes!! Very good idea. Ideally it should be initiated on as many routes as possible but most certainly to suburbs such as Brooklyn, Karoari and Mt Victoria which include substantial uphill riding thus putting-off people like me.


  20. achim

    Looking forward to that trial.

    I agree, take the bus for the most ugly parts of Wellington.

    I’d like to mention aspect for selecting routes:
    Areas, where the bus stops not in walking distance from the real start or end of the journey.

    @Simon Kennett:
    2 – Finding space for additional patrons on services which are sometimes already overloaded – or scheduling extra buses (at significant expense).

    I do not understand this argument, sounds like: Do not go by bus if needed most frequently?
    In my opinion the public transport and rush hour problem is not increased by two cyclists per bus.


    1. Sinead

      plus, atleast a cyclist can look at an overfull bus and think” you know what, I’m gonna cycle.” And it would encourage more of those bus bound people to be biking too, making them healthier, fitter, reducing their emissions and ultimately the buses being less full! YAY!


  21. atom

    @Simon Kennett –

    #1 – possibly a real issue; investigation is required. possible solutions if it’s a real problem: a) removal of on-street parking where required or b) exclusion zones where bikes are not allowed on some sections of some routes (i really don’t think a folded-up rack would adversely affect a bus’s turning radius enough to make a difference, but this would be a reasonable part of an investigation).

    #2 – currently, without BOB, i’ve been on buses that are beyond capacity when they drive past multiple bus stops with ten or more people (per stop) waiting. i’ve also waited at bus stops with ten or more people and watched multiple buses (full beyond capacity) go past without stopping. there are already routes that are beyond full capacity during rush hour. since bike racks would only add 2-3 passengers at a time, this seems like a non-issue to the extent that we’re talking about BOB: if a route is beyond capacity with BOB then it’s beyond capacity without BOB. that’s a scheduling/capacity planning issue (and of course a funding/subsidy issue), not a BOB issue.

    #3 – whatever money the region has hinted at providing for installation of racks will probably be hard to wiggle out of, but in the context of regional transportation funding, a million isn’t much (how much was spent to “improve” manners street?). of course the bus companies *should* be considering that this has proven to be a positive ROI in (all?) other areas where it’s been installed, and projected to be a positive ROI here in wellington (no surprise). since the bus companies will (in all likelihood) profit from BOB they should be bringing money to the table and being proactive about BOB, not grudgingly whining for a handout and complaining about problems that have been disproven many times over (curiously, the bus company’s position in all of this isn’t actually known to me). i’m not sure how the buses are subsidised…? is there a (somewhat direct) financial return to the region if the buses enjoy higher profit margin? if so, that might make money available for cycling projects. of course there are indirect benefits that will provide gains for the region.

    #4 – i would expect management of a for-profit company to understand ROI and, possibly to a lesser extent, risk management. according to their website they’re also concerned about their public image. all of these favor BOB, as documented in the US and NZ reports. i would expect drivers to do what management tells them to do.


  22. Pingback: Bike racks on buses: 4 questions : Cycling in Wellington

  23. Bike racks on the number 3 route!!!!

    I nearly die every die hauling my bike back up Mt Karori. Love the ride down to Newtown in the mornings though.

    Wellington must have bike racks on buses. This would win my vote any day.


  24. Holly Walker

    Definitely the routes from the Hutt Valley, particularly now that it’s harder to take bikes on trains during peak time. This would be a huge help!


  25. Jo

    I agree that the hutt would be a good start, with the issue of bikes on trains. A would also support the Karori route to support Makara Peak Mtn Bike Park.


  26. Sarah Hyder

    I am so pleased to hear that this is finally going ahead! I’m a commuter cyclist from Karori, so from my point of view racks on no.3 would be greatly appreciated.


    1. Simon Kennett

      It’ll be a few weeks yet until the meeting that Cr Ponter is expecting a report at. Commissioning of the Matangi units, Real Time Information, recently aquiring the railway stations, new timetables – these things (and more) will be keeping the Public Transport department very, very busy for the next several months.


  27. Neville

    I agree that the hilly routes should be a priority. I’ve just moved to Newlands and while I’m fit enough to get back up the gorge on my commuter bike, the hill puts my wife off attempting it on her heavy Dutch bike. We are considering some electric assistance for her, but a bike pick up spot at the Ngauranga interchange would encourage heaps more people to cycle to work.


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