As part of our bike racks on buses series we’ve been talking with Jonathan Slason, Senior Transportation Engineer at BECA. Here are four relevant issues that came out of his presentation at the IPENZ conference last week, along with my commentary (in italics).
1. What did Christchurch do wrong?
JS: Christchurch didn’t provide sufficient education and exposure. But more importantly, they didn’t put the racks on enough buses. The same route or stop didn’t have 100% of buses with the racks. Therefore, people biked up to a stop and didn’t have 100% confidence that the bus would have a rack for them. We stress 6 months or more build up period to get people knowledgeable about the racks and excited about them.
This makes sense to me. While in the long run you’d eventually get people using the racks, why wait for the long run? It also supports comments on an earlier post that Wellington should go all out rather than trialling.
2. How long does the loading time take and what does that do to the bus timings/schedule?
JS: The loading time, is negligible. Quotes from bus operators saying that is nothing to worry about given the average amount of random delay in the network. 10-20 seconds for an experienced person. This is more than accounted for by any time hitting a red light.
This should go some way to addressing GO Wellington drivers’ reasonable concerns on the matter.
3. What about loading/unloading racks and interfering with adjacent traffic lanes?
The racks are made to reduce the need to step into an adjacent lane. Newer racks allow the rack to slightly swivel to reduce the potential for conflict. More of a potential with the 3-bike model racks. But the design is mitigating against it.
4. What about full bike racks?
The risk is that closer to a destination a bus will be full. However, we aim to forecast when that is the case and more often patrons will be expected to use the storage lockers. Particularly if you are closer to the urban core, then you would be expected to cycle fully or use Bike and Ride combining the use of storage and transport, rather than just Bike and Ride.
In Wellington I think the issue will arise closer to the departure points in the evening, given that we are more likely to ride in to the city, for example, and catch the bus home up the hill. I’ll ask Jonathan about the implications of this.
So, what do you think?