Transit and Bikes: Meant for Each Other

Too often, in the struggle for meager financial resources, progressive transportation advocates can become divided — and the division sometimes leaves bicyclists on one side and transit boosters on the other. Today, Streetsblog Network member blog Cyclelicious makes the case that not only do bikes need transit, transit needs bikes to increase efficiency and ridership, giving the example of Caltrain in the Bay Area:

162483945_9b303e237f.jpgA Caltrain car packed with bikes. Photo by richardmasoner via Flickr.

According to San Jose Transportation Director Jim Helmer (with whom I ride a bus into San Jose every day), the most utilized city parking lots are those next to Caltrain and VTA light rail stations. These
parking lots are filled to capacity every day. BART has similar parking capacity issues. $200,000 will buy about four parking spots in the Bay Area — those four spaces will be used by one person each day. Caltrain will spend about $200,000 over the next eight weeks adding almost 300 bike spaces on its bike cars, each of which can be used by three or four people if you consider round trip travel. Transit needs bikes to cost-effectively get passengers the last mile to and from the transit stop.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Milwaukee Rising is pointing out some twisted thinking on spending priorities in that state:

State government would be cut by $125 million over the next two years, but highway workers would be exempted from threats to their jobs, as would those with public safety gigs, such as cops or
firefighters.

Oh, yeah. The first $300 million in federal stimulus money would go to highway projects.

So still no way to connect jobs to workers without cars, but plenty of cops to roust and bust them if they become homeless.

Or are they all supposed to find jobs as road builders?

  • t

    Transit and biking go together so logically, it’s a shame that more municipalities don’t invest in more bike parking. Think about it: one reason someone takes the train to work is because the train station is closer to their home than their office is and driving there is easier than driving to work. That probably means that most suburban train stations are within biking distance of many of the people who use them every day. (If you live in Westchester you’re probably never more than four or five miles from a train station.)

    So perhaps the answer isn’t to put more spaces for bikes on train cars but to guarantee safe bike parking at stations themselves, both at the suburban end and in the city.

    Amsterdam has figured this out:

    http://flickr.com/photos/planetgordon/3103007748/in/set-72157611022234658/

    Many of the bikes there are left overnight so that people who take the train into the city can bike the remaining distance to their offices. (Many of these people also bike to the station in their hometowns, leave their bikes for the day, and then bike home when the train lets them off.)

    Why couldn’t MetroNorth dedicate spaces in its lots to safe, secure bike parking so that riders would know their bikes are safe while they are at work all day?

  • It’s all about that elusive “last-mile” connectivity, isn’t it. Bikes, transit, complete streets; all of these things are what’s required to be able to make it possible to get from a to b to c easily and quickly. Nice post.

  • brian

    besides good bike parking that ‘t’ mentioned, I think that bike sharing might help too. For me though, if I commuted every day by bike train I’d just buy a folding bike. The Dahon Boardwalk sells for $200 at Performance Bike right now, and it’s a decent bike for trips under 3 miles.

  • Jack

    Bike + Train = Nirvana. Covered bike parking with cameras for security helps too.

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