The Case for Bike Racks on NYC Buses
Over the last ten years (or more) just about every major city in the U.S. has added bike-carrying capacity to their buses. While cities like Chicago, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Seattle, Philadelphia, and San Francisco can boast 100% of their bus fleet sporting bike racks, NYC comes in at 0% - the only one in The Alliance for Biking & Walking's 2010 Benchmarking report.
This probably comes as no surprise to any cyclist from NYC who travels an ample amount, but what is shocking is this fact quietly goes unmentioned in NYC. We cannot recall a single news story or push to get bike racks anywhere in the last ten years.
Of course, there are reasonable assumptions one can make why NYC has not tried out some program. First and foremost: the NYC MTA subway system already allows bikes 24 hours a day. It's an excellent benefit for sure, but there are many regions of the five boroughs that are not easily within reach of a train. If we want to encourage multi-modalism, we need seriously think about that.
Then there is a barrage of others: cyclists will be too slow to load, bikes might fall off the racks, cost, maintenance, etc, but after viewing our Streetfilm you'll see there really isn't a valid excuse not to.
So we think it's time that the MTA and the city to consider a few pilot programs to put some bike racks on some routes. Of course, we are not talking about places like Manhattan or most parts of Brooklyn but we feel there are some great candidates that would yield good results. Look here:
- Anywhere in Staten Island.
- Eastern Queens.
- Parts of The Bronx.
- Any buses that cross bridges without cycle paths including the Verrazano-Narrows, The Whitestone and The Throggs Neck bridges.
Kristen Steele: [00:16] Our Benchmarking study, Bicycling and Walking in the US, found that almost every major city, including Las Vegas, Kansas City, and right here in San Francisco, have 100% of buses equipped with bike racks.
Kristen Steele: [00:35] New York City was the only major city in the US where none of their buses have bike racks.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [00:46] You know I’ve been all over the United States and just about every city I go to I see bike racks on buses, small cities, big cities, East Coast, West Coast, it doesn’t seem to matter. Why doesn’t New York City have any bike racks on their buses? As I’ve been travelling I’ve been documenting how bus bike racks are doing in other cities and I’ve been talking to city officials and commuters about it. In these cities, bus bike racks are a way of life.
Nat Bottigheimer: [01:09] Actually every one of our buses now has them as standard equipment. They’ve had them since 2001 when the region’s funding jurisdictions basically got together and said that’s something that they wanted. The federal congestion mitigation air quality funds to fund the retrofit of the buses. But ever since then we’ve basically got them as original equipment with the buses and so now the entire fleet is equipped and it just comes as standard operating procedure.
Sirinya Tritipeskul: [01:31] I’m actually a multimodal commuter. It depends on the day but either I’ll use a zooter, which is an adult kick scooter, or I have my bicycle. I haven’t found a single bus in Los Angeles in the past 10 or 15 years that doesn’t have a bike rack.
John Mauro: [01:46] Especially in Seattle, it’s really important to have multimodal options here because the city’s really spread out, there are a lot of bridges, a lot of places that cyclists can’t ride a across and so getting a bike on a bus is critical.
Eileen Kadesh: [01:57] We actually have as one of our mission statements trying to encourage a seamless link between bicycles and other kinds of non motorised modes. And we’ve repeatedly heard from bus drivers that most bicycle commuters are extremely fast. Most of them are able to load their bikes and get on the bus at the tail end of the passenger loading. So it doesn’t really hold up buses.
Nat Bottigheimer: [02:26] Putting bikes on buses doesn’t slow buses down at all. Not an issue.
Steve Clark: [02:29] One of the proposals that we received from Met Transit for funding is to increase the capacity of the bike racks from two to three bikes.
Jamie “Jay” Nova” [02:37] Why do I ride the bus in combination with my bike? Well, it saves money and it saves me time and I don’t have to look for parking.
Nat Bottigheimer: [02:42] For bicyclists having racks on the buses is a great lifeline as well. I’ve flatted twice in places where it’s going to be awkward for me to get home with a flat and it’s just been a great lifeline to have.
Sirinya Tritipeskul: [02:52] And I grew up in Los Angeles and when I entered High School my parents moved to the suburbs and so there are a lot of distances suddenly that I found very easy to travel by using a bike and then the bus.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.:
[03:06] Listen, I know that New York City’s in the middle of a big
budget crunch, but we really need to start looking to the future and
consider these types of bike accommodation to encourage multimodal usage.
There are plenty of places in the five boroughs that do not have easy
access to subways and we should test some pilot programmes. So,
where to start? I’m standing here on Staten Island and bike
racks on buses would make so much sense for Staten Islanders so they
could better interact with the Staten Island railway, the ferry and
make easier cross island trips throughout the borough. We should
also make it mandatory to put racks on all buses that cross bridges
that are inaccessible to bikes, for example the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
And in addition I’d put bus bike racks on all the routes that connect
Queens and the Bronx. So come on New York City, I think this is
a reasonable proposal. Lots of other cities have bus bike racks.
Why don’t we try it out? What do you think?