Bike/bus schemes winning over Stateside commuters

More bike racks being fitted to buses

While bike rental schemes are hitting the headlines in Europe, a quieter revolution is happening on the other side of the Atlantic.

Bus and bike commuter schemes have been on the increase in the USA and Canada in recent years, and the trend is gathering momentum. Services vary, with some bus firms now allowing cyclists to carry their bikes on board and many providing racks to stow two wheelers for longer journeys.

Ohio, Mid West, USA

Fewer than three years since its launch in September 2004, the Central Ohio Transport Authority's Bike 'n' Bus Program has marked 100,000 rides. All COTA's fixed-route buses have front-mounted bike racks, which hold two bikes and there is no extra charge to use this service. COTA has been recording the bike rack usage through an onboard tracking system.

Speaking as the 100,000th ride was announced, COTA president Bill Lhota said, "I am proud that the program has been successful and it truly is a great resource for people travelling greater distances."

Dundas, Ontario, Canada

This August saw the launch of the Hamilton Public Works Department's Bike 'n' Bus program. There are now eight buses fitted with bike racks, including new diesel/electric hybrid buses. Like the Ohio service, each rack can hold two bikes and space is available on a first come first serve basis for free.

To find out more visit the Hamilton Street Railway website.

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Every 106 regular and express-route bus which runs in Des Moines was fitted with a bike rack last summer. The Des Moines Area Regional Transport Authority has detailed instructions on using the service on its website, complete with full information on permitted tyre sizes and what happens to the occasional forgotten bike. During July this year, DART carried 2,823 bikes, putting the project on track to reach its goal of 3,000 bikes carried in August.

Toronto, Canada

Toronto Transit Commission's Rack It and Rock It scheme has bike racks on seven different bus routes. During off peak periods cyclists can take their bike on board if the rack is full. There is even a video online demonstrating how to get your bike racked safely and speedily. Toronto is also piloting a bike locker scheme, with secure parking space available at ten different sites around the city.

British Colombia, Canada

The ValleyMAX transportation service, which operates in parts of British Colombia, also runs buses fitted with bike racks. Potential users can try one out on a vehicle at the firm's headquarters, allowing them to get familiar with the equipment - and avoiding a frustrated bus driver.

Back in Europe, bike-bus schemes have had mixed success. In Northern Ireland bikes can be carried on board all services, but only after 9.30am, preventing commuters from using the facility.

In the northern English city of Sheffield there is a special service for cyclists into the popular Peak District, which carries about 360 bike passengers a year. They are allowed to take their bikes on board two special mini buses. But a bike-bus service in the tourist county of Devon in the UK has been axed due to insufficient funding.

© BikeRadar 2007

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