Cycling and public transit are transportation options that minimize the costs—both financial and environmental— brought on by car ownership. Though each are valuable commuting methods on their own, they do create some challenges for would-be riders, such as distance or lack of convenience. A bike-and-ride facility, providing bike parking at a transit hub for a combined commute, can make sustainable transit a more practical option.
What is a bike-and-ride system?
Bike-and-ride systems are bike parking stations at transit hubs (usually bus depots or metro train stations), where commuters can park their bicycles for the day. Commuters who live too far away from a transit stop to walk, or who would require lengthy, inconvenient transfers, can bike to a transit hub, park their bikes, and then take public transportation to their final destination from there. Bike-and-ride stations provide secure medium-term bicycle parking.
Why are bike-and-rides helpful?
Individually, cycling, walking, and public transit may not practically be able to replace a car-commute. Bike-and-ride systems take a two-step approach to car-free transportation. They look at the benefits of two commuting methods, cycling and public transit, and offer a smooth transition from one to another.
Commuters may hesitate to cycle to work if the destination is too far for biking alone, there are large hills, or if bike parking isn’t available near the workplace. Commuters can also be discouraged from public transit when the distance between their home and the transit stop is too far to walk, or if transit routes would require multiple transfers. During rush hour, bike parking at a workplace or campus can be a challenge as bike racks can fill up quickly. Bus bike racks also present a problem with capacity limitations (most busses can only hold two bikes at a time, and bikes are not allowed inside)—and tram systems often do not allow bicycles at all during rush-hours.
A bike-and-ride facility alleviates many of these concerns and offers peace of mind during the daily commute. City planners can use the bike-and-ride concept to create balanced urban landscapes focused on developing a more car-free society.
Bike-and-ride bike storage
Bike storage for long-term bike parking can be in the form of bike lockers or bike shelters. Bike lockers are placed in an open space, with one locker holding one or two bikes at a time. Bike lockers are self-contained and enclosed, providing protection from theft, as well as weather and vandalism. Bike shelters, on the other hand, are collectively enclosed spaces with fencing or walls. They house multiple bicycles under one roof using corral-style bike racks to maximize use of space.
Bike lockers for bike-and-ride facilities
Bike lockers are known for their high standard of durability as they protect against theft, vandalism, and weather. In an open, public space easily accessed by many people, a bicycle locker is the most secure bike storage option. Bike lockers are usually rectangular or triangular lockers that hold one or two bikes at a time, as well as helmets and other cycling gear. Cyclists can rent the bike lockers on a per-use basis, or reserve them ahead of time.
From a site planning perspective, the maneuverability of bicycle lockers is an asset. Unlike bike shelters, bike lockers can be uninstalled and reinstalled—they can be moved if necessary. Adjustments can be made to the direction of bike lockers to improve the flow of traffic, or they can be shifted around to increase visibility.
Bike-and-ride in urban communities
Many municipalities have planned for cyclist convenience. They offer information online regarding bike locker locations, as well as how to reserve one ahead of time. By using these services, cyclists can plan ahead for a seamless transition from biking to public transit. Some transit systems allow users to pay for bike parking with their transit passes.
The incentive to forgo automobiles may start off as cost-driven, but the non-financial benefits can surpass economics as people enjoy the practicality of commuting car-free. A bike-and-ride facility empowers users with more choices, and provides urban transportation infrastructure that is no longer car-centric, but in line with the modern demands of a bike-friendly culture.