The UK has an extensive network of buses, and it would be ideal to carry 2 or 3 bikes on the front. However this is not happening at the moment, as the DfT is not allowing new developments like this at the moment.
This would tie in with the long term Government aim of the UK being as cycle-friendly as possible. This simple, easy to use ‘multi-modal’ solution would be really popular with UK commuters, leisure, casual or occasional cyclists, and enables many more journeys to be made by bike.
The Solent region will be an ideal area for piloting fitting the bike rack to the front of buses.
Possible routes could include:
The racks are not expensive and can easily be fitted to all buses currently in operation in the area. The bus operators are generally open to new innovation like this.
All of the Nottingham University Hopper buses now carry 2 bikes on the rear of the bus, using the popular Sportworks Velo-Porter 2 bus rack.
They were introduced after an extensive trial period, when a small number of buses were fitted with the bus racks for testing. Some of the Halls of Residence are situated a few miles from the main campus or other buildings, so there is a dedicated bus service that connects these.
Many cyclists are using the bike and bus-rack for the long part of the journey, then finishing their journey by bike. The bus company wanted to fit them on the front, but guidance from DafT meant these needed to be on the rear
The City of Bath is located in a valley whilst the university, hospital and residential areas are on higher ground overlooking the city. There is a real need to carry bikes on buses for the return trip uphill if cyclists have ridden down on their bikes.
The bus service that connects the large Wessex Water offices with the surrounding area have been fitted with the BOB bus racks on the rear.
First Group were keen to carry out a pilot scheme with bike racks on the front of their buses, with the support of the local MP, council officers and the cycling campaign group to get LSTF funding. Although close to getting DfT approval, the funding lapsed and the local Tory MP lost his seat leading to the end of the project.
The 2 bike velo-porter bus racks were fitted to the rear of minibuses that connected the area with the DSTL research site at the top of Portsdown Hill.
The roads up to the research site are fairly steep and, although ideal for sports cyclists out on a training ride, are a hard slog for commuters of a morning.
However, at the end of the day, the return trip downhill would be enjoyable for any cyclist.
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.