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INTEGRATION OF BICYCLES AND TRANSIT SUMMARY During the past decade, there has been significant growth in bicycle and transit integration. Transit agencies are increasingly mounting bicycle racks on buses, allowing bicycles to be brought on board trains, installing bicycle racks and lockers at transit stations, providing staffed bicycle parking facilities (also referred to as bike stations) at major transit hubs, and offering other bicycle services. Forty-five (80%) of the 56 North American transit agencies that responded to a survey for this report started at least one of their bicycle services after 1994, when TCRP Synthesis of Transit Practice 4: Integration of Bicycles and Transit was published. The purpose of this report is to share information about how bicycles are integrated with public transportation by many different types of transit agencies in the United States and Canada. The information in this synthesis can be used to improve existing bicycle services and to assist other communities with developing new bicycle and transit services. This report is an update of TCRP Synthesis of Transit Practice 4. There are many reasons for the growth in bicycle and transit integration. Transit agencies have found that bicycle services can provide the following benefits: · Bicycling extends the catchment area for transit services and provides greater mobility to customers at the beginning and end of their transit trips. · Bicycle-on-transit services provide bicyclists with the option to take transit to avoid rid- ing after dark, up hills, in poor weather, or in areas that do not provide comfortable bicy- cle access (e.g., bridges, tunnels, construction areas, and narrow roads with high traffic volumes). Bicycle-on-transit is also an option for bicyclists who have mechanical prob- lems or need to get home in an emergency. · Bicycle and transit integration is also thought to decrease automobile traffic congestion, help reduce air pollution (by reducing motor vehicle trips), and improve the public image of transit. All of these benefits help communities reduce their reliance on single-occupant vehicle travel and make their transportation systems work more efficiently. The information provided by transit agencies and other background investigations for this study revealed several key findings about bicycle and transit integration. The main findings of this study are summarized here. There has been significant growth in bicycle and transit integration in North America over the past decade. In the early 1990s, bicycle and transit integration at many agencies included only bike parking; a few were starting to establish bicycle-on-bus programs and experi- menting with bicycle-on-rail accommodation. Bicycle services are now offered by agencies of all sizes in many different parts of the United States and Canada. Bicycle on bus, in par- ticular, has become quite common owing to increases in federal funding sources, transit agen- cies replacing old buses with newer models, and private industry developing bicycle rack designs to overcome operational limitations. Transit agencies are providing an increasingly diverse set of bicycle services to their customers. More agencies are offering services such as mounting bicycle racks on vanpool
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2 vehicles, installing hooks and racks for storing bikes on rail cars, using high-capacity bus bicy- cle racks, providing high-capacity bike parking at transit hubs, and developing bike stations. By providing bicycle services, many transit agencies believe that they can capture addi- tional customers during off-peak times. Many bicycle trips are made for social or recreational purposes and occur during off-peak travel times, such as on weekends, in the early morning, or in the late evening. Despite the growing number of services, few agencies have collected detailed data about bicycle-on-transit rider characteristics or bicycle parking use. Most transit agencies have per- formance measures for overall ridership levels, frequency of service, maintenance, and other aspects of transit programs; however, few have incorporated bicycle services into their per- formance measures. Bicycle and transit integration is viewed by many agencies as a reliable tool for market- ing and promoting good community relations. Some agencies believe that bicycle services can help increase their base of regular customers. Others believe that bicycle services can build support from organizations that promote environmental issues and alternatives to per- sonal automobile use. A majority of the agencies contributing information to this study pro- vide information about their bicycle services on their transit agency websites and through brochures. Several have sponsored demonstrations on how to load bicycles on bus racks at transit hubs and at bicycle to work events. Good relationships with local bicycle advocacy groups have been helpful to transit agen- cies in their efforts to promote new bicycle services. Some transit agencies reported that these advocacy groups have helped raise awareness about their bicycle programs through e-mail lists, websites, and other activities. A few of the agencies developed partnerships with these groups for managing bicycle parking programs. Bicycle advocacy groups can also be a resource for suggesting improvements from a bicycle user's perspective. Some bicycle and transit integration programs exist in communities that support bicycling in other ways (i.e., by providing bicycle lanes, bike routes, shared-use paths, and bicycle parking). Several transit agencies have participated in planning efforts with local jurisdic- tions to ensure that transportation facility construction and land use development facilitate bicycle access to transit. It is relatively inexpensive for transit agencies to provide bicycle services. Providing bicy- cle racks on a bus or vanpool vehicle typically costs between $500 and $1,000, which repre- sents a small fraction of the cost of the entire vehicle. Bicycle storage equipment for rail cars is also a small portion of their total cost. Allowing bicycles to be brought on board buses and trains can be done with little or no capital investment. Bicycle racks typically cost between $150 and $200, and bicycle lockers between $500 and $2,000. By comparison, the cost to construct automobile parking can range from $3,500 to $12,000 per space for surface park- ing and between $10,000 and $31,000 per space for structured (garage) parking. Bicycle and transit services are inexpensive for bicyclists. Most agencies do not require additional fees for bicyclists to use bus, rail, or bicycle rack services. Some agencies charge fees for permits or rental leases (such as a set amount per month, a refundable deposit, or a one-time charge), particularly for secure bicycle locker facilities. Of the agencies that do collect data, most that have tracked the use of bicycle-on-transit services and bicycle parking have shown growth over time. It is common to see the most sig- nificant growth in use during the first few years of a new service as information about the ser- vice spreads to potential customers. Sometimes modifications to a program, such as remov- ing permit requirements to bring a bicycle on transit or increasing the percentage of buses with racks, can increase usage levels.
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3 As a whole, transit agencies that provided information for this study reported very posi- tive reactions from bicyclists and generally favorable reactions from other transit riders, tran- sit agency staff, and the general public. The groups that are most likely to react negatively toward bicycle and transit integration are transit operators and maintenance workers. Bus drivers' unions in particular have expressed concerns regarding bus bike racks, because they believe that it adds an extra task to bus drivers' duties. Many agencies have overcome these concerns through training, demonstrations, and actual experience. Initial concerns regarding bicycle-on-transit services are often overcome after the services are implemented. Many agencies reported that the initial concerns from transit operators, maintenance workers, or other groups diminished after bicycle services were tested over time under working conditions. Although few agencies reported significant maintenance problems, some transit agency maintenance departments have opposed bicycle services because of issues such as damaged bus bike racks, abandoned bicycles on bus racks and at transit stations, and vandalized bicy- cle lockers. Systems with more comprehensive bicycle and transit integration services tend to have the most success attracting bicycling customers. Several transit agencies reported that their bike-on-bus and bike-on-rail services tended to have greater use when bicycles were accom- modated at all times on all routes. There are often budgetary and capacity limitations to pro- viding bicycle services throughout a system. However, when it is possible, installing bike racks on all buses and removing peak period and permit restrictions can help a transit agency serve the most potential bicycle customers.