Bikes On Buses have been operating in Australia for many years. ACT Transport use VeloPorter 2 transit bike racks on their buses in and around Canberra, and have proved very popular with commuters there.
These safe and secure bicycle transport systems are the ideal solution for truly integrated transport, promoting active travel whilst reducing congestion, and therefore CO2 emissions.
The bike racks carry up to three bikes on the front of the transit vehicle, maximising capacity inside. Riders can secure their bikes on the rack quickly and easily, without the need for assistance from the driver.
Canberra is a relatively new city that is spread over a large area, and it has a central district with many surrounding suburban areas. This means the distances are considerable between areas, making the bus-rack ideal. People can cycle from home to a regional bus stop, then put their bikes on the bus for the long trip to near their work or business, unload the bike, then cycle directly there. This has proved to be very popular.
Over 90% of the Canberra ACT buses now carry 2 bikes on the front, using the popular Sportworks Velo-Porter 2 bus rack. They were introduced after an extensive trial period, and gradually almost all the fleet are now fitted. The ones that do not have a bus-rack fitted are the smaller local services around the city centre, (where it is probably faster to cycle) and some of the longer wheel-base buses. This is simply a legal issue about bus lengths.
Following the Velo-City conference in Adelaide, the State of Victoria worked with BOB to pilot the bus racks on 3 routes. This included one in Melbourne, one in the South on a coastal tourist route, and one in the north, in Bendigo.
These proved popular, and the trials are ongoing.
The bus racks were tried in Brisbane over 10 years ago, in a small pilot project, but this was judged to be a problem, and they were removed.
10 Racks were purchased and installed on Tasmanian buses, but the island is very hilly, and the drivers had difficulty in getting round some of the narrow, twisting hair-pin bends. The drivers did not like them, and so they were removed. Canberra managed to acquire them for their growing bus services, where the bus-racks were in demand.
These cities have discussed pilot projects, but these have not been progressed.
People are most likely to use public transport when it's within a quarter of a mile walking distance or when it's within a three-mile biking distance. Making it easier for cyclists to take their bikes on public transport opens up a 12 times larger drawing catchment area.
Many commuters and cyclists are constrained by bridges, tunnels, steep hills and unsafe city streets. Being able to complete part of the journey by bus enables them to overcome these mobility barriers, encouraging more active travel and therefore exercise.
The bus rack is ideal for marketing and PR and demonstrates that the city, town or bus company are serious about promoting cycling and active travel within the community.
Offering a wider range of affordable green travel options reduces the need to make car journeys. This results in reduced congestion, quieter & safer streets, better air quality and improved wellbeing of local residents. This creates a positive environmental image of the public transport service.
In case of an emergency, such as vehicle breakdown, or if the weather is bad, travellers have another option of how to get to their destination.
Racks free up space that may otherwise have been taken up by bicycles within the bus, so there is more room for commuters. Buses are also kept cleaner as bikes are kept outside.
Bike trips can seamlessly be incorporated with public transport by providing robust racks - which is perceived as a real added value service by riders.
In the wake of the coronavirus there has been a huge uptick in cycling globally, with Governments actively encouraging it and investing in improvements to cycleways. Many workplaces also offer 'Cycle to Work' schemes that fund bikes that are used for the work commute. It's important that public transport services recognise this trend and become a part of it.
A driver's visibility is not restricted by carrying bikes on the front of the bus.