Bikes on Buses in the draft GWRC Long Term Plan

Greater Wellington Regional Council has included the implementation of bike racks on buses in its draft Long Term Plan, to be investigated and implemented where practical starting in 2017. It has been included in the ‘out years’ of the plan in order that high priority (and costly) upgrades to the rail commuter network may be completed in the short term.
It is hoped that the provision of bike racks on buses will encourage cycle commuting by providing a safe, fall-back option for cyclists who are caught out by bad weather, failing light or mechanical problems.

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15 thoughts on “Bikes on Buses in the draft GWRC Long Term Plan

  1. Research report 418 Forecasting the benefits from providing an interface between cycling and public transport
    http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/418/

    The integration of cycling and public transport (cycle-PT) can provide additional transport modal choice and flexibility in the use of existing public transport and also increase cycling trips and transit patronage. A model was developed for forecasting demand for bike racks on board public transport and secure storage at stations and terminals in different contexts and for different public transport modes. The NZ Transport Agency’s Economic evaluation manual was used to calculate the economic justification in terms of a benefit-to-cost (BCR) ratio for implementing cycle-PT in New Zealand’s larger centres. Cycle-PT is economically justified in New Zealand with BCRs from 2 to more than 10 depending on the centre and the scenario. The implementation of cycle-PT in New Zealand’s six largest centres could produce more than 1.7 million cycle-PT trips per annum. This research has provided sufficient analysis for practitioners to be able to systematically plan and evaluate the demand and economics for cycle-PT schemes in New Zealand.

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  2. atom

    has anyone here heard of a place called “des moines”? it’s in iowa. i’ve been to iowa, and the first things that come to my mind when it’s mentioned are corn, soy and cows. DART, the des moines area rapid transit, has had bikes on buses since 2005. they just broke their previous utilization record, and blew the doors off the estimated utilization rates.

    https://app.e2ma.net/app/view:CampaignPublic/id:34531.10976623446/rid:026f4e39269db4c6398d2eaf8847fb05

    RECORD USE OF BUS BIKE RACKS The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) reports a record Bike & Ride numbers for use of racks on the front of bikes. Through October (10 months) DART reports more than 35,774 uses; the previous record for 12 months was 31,168. When transit staff sought funding for the racks in 2005, they projected 7,145 annual uses. Des Moines commuters (technically multimodal commuters) have blown way past those original projections. Times five!

    c’mon… for a capital city of half a million people (about the same population as des moines) bursting at the seems for want of bike infrastructure, can’t we do better than “investigating” this in five years???

    i’d really like to see some more motivation on the parts of the GWRC and also the bus operators. as far as i’m aware, the bus operators could “just do it”, and based on EVERYTHING i’ve been reading, they’d very quickly turn bike racks into profit.

    where are infratil’s shareholders? why aren’t they demanding this?

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    1. Simon Kennett

      http://maps.google.co.nz/maps?q=Des+Moines,+Iowa,+United+States&hl=en&ll=41.596446,-93.624458&spn=0.164063,0.362892&sll=-41.244772,172.617188&sspn=41.977267,92.900391&vpsrc=6&hnear=Des+Moines,+Polk,+Iowa,+United+States&t=h&z=12

      Des Moines’ roads look flat, wide, and straight. The topography of our bus routes and our trolley bus fleet require a little extra investigation. That said, note that the original post talks about ‘investigation and implementation starting in 2017’.

      You might like to buy yourself some Infratil shares? But I really can’t see them volunteering for this. Bike racks on buses have a great benefit-cost ratio because of all sorts of public goods they help generate – strip that away and you’d be looking at a decidedly iffy investment.

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  3. Nigel

    Actually, I’m appalled/dismayed to see this is in the 5 year plan. This is a “keep ’em quiet” and “hope they forget about it” tactic. Nothing to celebrate here except we’ve been fobbed off.

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    1. Simon Kennett

      Bear in mind that the Long Term Plan is a 10 year plan. Being included in year 5 puts bikes on buses in the middle of the plan. Whether you see this as ‘glass half full’ or ‘glass half empty’ is up to you.

      Of course, this is just a draft plan – you’ll have the opportunity to express your approval/dismay in the new year.

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  4. Glen K

    In Christchurch, Bikes on Buses were first mentioned in the 1998 Chch PT Strategy, with plans to “investigate trials for bike racks on the bus”. Fast forward to the 2006 Strategy update and the original target proposed then was “ongoing investigations for BoB on high demand routes by 2012”. I was on the PT Advisory Group and gave them short shrift about this – they’d already had 8 years to “investigate” – get on with it! So it got changed to “Implement BoB on at least three routes” (which was strongly supported by public consultation). And by 2008 we had trials on a couple of services and now we currently have 18 routes that have bike racks.

    So yes, it can be a long haul. But it should be a lot easier and quicker for other places to introduce them now around NZ because (a) you can call on the experience of Canterbury PT planners and operators to help, (b) the economic evidence for it is clearer thanks to NZTA Research Rpt 418 mentioned above, and (c) the law has now been changed to allow bike racks on the front of buses without special dispensation.

    So why exactly will it still take 5 years to make a start on this? Just make it a condition of contract as various services come up for renewal.

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    1. Simon Kennett

      We certainly appreciate the pioneering work done by Christchurch in this area.

      The reason for the delay here is a lack of funds. We’re in the middle of a major overhaul of our commuter rail network. It is expected that GWRC will need to come up with about $1 million to fit racks to all buses (we have a much larger bus fleet than Christchurch). Of course, given the current economic climate, there is strong desire to limit rates increases (at a time when the NZTA share for projects is falling, that’s a big ask).

      The thinking here is that it’s best to fit racks to the entire bus fleet (or at least the bulk of it) all at once, for two reasons:
      1 – Our buses get deployed each day on the basis of which-ever ended up at the front of the queue in the depot the previous night. Due to limited space, it is not practical to store the buses for a particular route seperately. Given that doesn’t happen, it’s not possible to assign bike racks on buses for only three routes. Not reliably, anyway (and that issue of reliability resulted in poor uptake during the Brisbane trial).
      2. There will be some economy of scale involved by buying in bulk. The frieght for a single rack from Seattle is about the same as the cost of the rack and mount. Shipping a whole container load will be the way to go. The Seattle ones have the flexible plastic construction that we require for pedestrian safety reasons.

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  5. Rob Appleton

    Got a flattie on my folder on my way from work to the Railway Station last night. Thought I’d try to catch a ride on a bus as I’d nothing to lose. I expected to be refused , but no, my bike and I were allowed on no worries. Thanks heaps Go Wellington and driver of bus no 2. Bikes on buses, it’s happening!

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  6. Nigel

    Today I was reminded of the famous “project” cartoon of the 1970s (http://www.projectcartoon.com) Why? Read on.

    How the cyclists explained it – We’re not allowed to take our bicycles on the yellow buses. Could be up to 3 bicycles at a time.
    How the GRWC understood it – OMG, this is like the bikes on trains thing. Folding bikes are good.
    How Infratil visualised it – “Captain, we canna get all the passengers in now, how’m I gunna drive such a contraption”
    How Health and Safety mandated it – .
    How it was funded – $0
    When it was delivered – 5 years!
    What the cyclists wanted – I HAVE SEEN IT. See http://pathlesspedaled.com/2011/12/mis-adventuring-on-the-coromandel/ for a picture of “What the customer wanted”. Yeah, I know, their Bromptons went into the cargo lockers, but that rack is designed for bicycles.

    Thank you to Lisa for doing the article on PathLessPedaled (The rockstars are coming!, 31Dec2011). Without this post I would never have witnessed this good example of Kiwi ingenuity: a front mounted towball and the type of car bikerack that we are all familiar with, all up cost ~$500. What’s more, it could all be made and fitted in NZ. The beauty and simplicity of it just about brings tears to my eyes. Now if the projecting prongs were hinged to fold aside when not in use, it would be more pedestrian friendly. And we have to live with the “first on, last off” loading, but hey, how long is 5 years…of nothing.

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    1. Simon Kennett

      The answer to the ‘How Health and Safety mandated it’ line is probably – ‘In an urban environment with high pedestrian numbers they must be flexible enough to pose a low risk of injury’. Something like this:

      http://sportworks.com/products/transit_racks/veloporter_2/

      The bike rack featured on the Path Less Travelled blog may be fine for a rural service, but the loading and unloading time would be unacceptable in a busy urban setting. It takes a good couple of minutes to securely fix a bike to a rack like that – more time if you’re concerned about two bikes scratching each other. In a situation of ‘first on, first off; and reload the second bike’ you could be delaying a bus load of passengers for 3 or 4 minutes. Imho, to trial a scheme like that would be a recipe for failure.

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      1. Nigel

        A couple of points about the “H&S” issues you raise:
        1. The present Wellington buses could hardly be described as pedestrian flexible – 100% unforgiving is how I would describe them from a pedestrian impact point of view. Notice how all new cars look the same in the frontal profile – it is no accident (sic), it’s a design profile they have to meet;
        2. The brochure of the proposed racks show bicycles with “drop down” style handlebars. What is it going to look like with two mountain/hybrid bicycles loaded – I see straight handlebars pointed straight into the traffic! No difference here. I did mention the racks might have to be folding when not in use.

        As to loading times. Well shall I describe the performance that goes on when a “mobility” person (dunno the correct term these days) gets on the bus? I fully respect the right of the passenger in these cases to use the bus. It’s not unlike bicyclists wanting to utilise the road. However it goes like this: Driver gets out of seat and produces the access ramp, wheeler boards bus, driver retracts and stores access ramp, driver then ejects the passengers occupying the “mobility space”, then we wait while the anchoring/tethering happens, now off we go. Most current bicyclists could load their bicycle in the same time. What’s the problem, except in peak times?

        I understand the GWRC doesn’t want a failure. They’d be slayed in the media. Oh well, this is politics and we just go on waiting forever. I, by the way am personally not a fan of Bikes on Buses, When my bicyle stops I catch the bus home and use the car to rescue it if necessary.

        I just thought I saw a neat little homegrown engineering solution.

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      2. Simon Kennett

        Check out the video on the Sportworks website – somewhere it shows an emergency stop (with bikes on the rack) and you can see the whole thing flexes. My assumption from this is that a pair of mountain bike handlebars on a Sportsworks rack would pose a much lower risk than a rigid fixed rack protruding forwards.

        I suspect bike racks on buses will be used much more frequently than the wheelchair ramp access.

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