Bikes and buses – starting to think about multimodalism

Bike on a bus

Great cities allow people to get around them in many different ways and to mix and match transport forms.  Christchurch already has some facilities that allow mixing and matching to happen, so I thought I’d reflect on this for a post or two – particularly with reference to the ways in which I see people mixing and matching cycling with other transport forms.

Bikes on buses first started in Christchurch around 2008 as a trial and now there are bike carriers pretty much on every bus route in our city. And I’m increasingly seeing bikes on the front of many buses moving around the place.

This has been a great initiative and personally I have put my bike on a bus a few times – often to get myself through the tunnel to Lyttelton or to get into the City from Lincoln which is a long ride, particularly in a strong Easterly. I know people that do quite long bike legs on either side of a bus trip across the City and others that use a bus to get themselves into town for meetings on rainy days – but they can then bike home, since getting home wet is not the problem that getting to a meeting wet is!

The pity of it is that on some routes, this great system is a victim of its own success. A friend noted the other day that he no longer uses the bus from Lincoln (even though he would like to) because he can’t rely on there being a bike space on the bus when he needs it.

People in Lyttelton also have been talking about this problem for some time. The only thing Lytteltonians can do is get into their cars to get themselves through the Tunnel which is closed to any active form of transport. I guess it is possible for these guys to drive through the tunnel with a bike on board and then park up and ride the bike.

I imagine the same issue may be arising on the northern and western sides of town where it makes sense of people to catch a bus as a way to avoid busy, fast rural roads with little in the way of a shoulder, or to cover distances that are daunting on a daily basis for most of us.

Do any readers use the bikes on buses facility regularly around Christchurch? How do you use it and have you experienced any problems with getting your bike onto a bus?

4 thoughts on “Bikes and buses – starting to think about multimodalism”

  1. I found that I could not rely on getting a spot on the rack so I went and brought a folder (Dahon Mu) so now I just carry my bike on with me.

  2. Bikes of any kind on buses just doesn’t scale up in peak travel periods. What bus-bike combo does work is having two bikes; the first you ride from home to your nearest bus stop and leave it here, the second is waiting for you at the end of your bus trip to ride to your destination.

    What this usually requires in practice is a nominal amount of bike parking at suburban bus stops (anywhere from say 5 to 20 depending on local demand, density etc) and a large bike parking area for hundreds if not thousands of bikes at the other end which is usually in the CBD or some other central location within easy riding distance of many separate destinations.

  3. Bikes and buses have the potential to be very complementary to each other – either one on their own wouldn’t be enough to save me from having to own a car, but together they mean I can get away without owning one, which is when the big cost savings kick in.

    I’ve recently changed the way I ride to work to more closely match my bus route. I’ve had a few punctures recently, which is far less hassle if you can just walk to the nearest bus stop and get a ride home/to work. I also enjoy being able to change mode easily if I want to – due to weather, luggage, unexpected plans, or just that I don’t feel like riding.

    I’ve never had any problems taking my bike on the bus, the racks have been empty on the number 7 every time.

  4. It was great to travel to UK recently and see how many cycle commuters there are using the trains in some areas. Once the cycleways are in place in Christchurch and cycle commuting becomes the norm for many people, there just may be ?? a good case for surveying Waimakariri and Selwyn commuters to gauge the likely added numbers for rail/ cycle combo commuting . Until then I wonder what the feasibility of running a “cycle” bus service once or twice a day from Rolleston and Rangiora/Kaiapoi where the bus tows a trailer that you can put your bike on to .

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