Riding On: Better Transit Connections through Bicycling

Author: Kirby Wilhelm

Published: January 31, 2020

Dave Fergusson / Bus Shelter, Post Box and Bike / CC BY-SA 2.0

All over the world, transit riders utilize a technology that’s had the same basic design since the late 19th century.

Moving people to and from where they board and depart, this technology is the reason we have paved public roads in the United States and is the most produced vehicle-type of all time. Here’s some hints: it’s low-cost and simple to maintain, produces no emissions, and leads to great exercise.

If you’re thinking bicycles, then you’d be ride-on. There are reasons aplenty to incorporate bicycling into mobility management efforts, but the connections bicycles can provide to other mobility options are important to discuss on their own.

Bicycling is the ultimate mobility connector. It can cover the distance between a transit stop and an origin/destination quickly. Traveling two miles in less than 20 minutes to your bus stop or the vanpool meet-up is something that could be done by bike but likely not by walking.  Whether gravel or paved road, it provides an opportunity for those living in areas underserved by (or a lengthy distance from) mobility options to connect better with what’s available. In places with varied terrain, bicycling offers a faster way to traverse hills and cruise down dips. As well, bikes take up less space on our roads and allow a user to bypass traffic and congestion.

Biking provides the key to a wider map of mobility destinations, greatly extending the available travel shed, compared to what is available to pedestrians. Whether as a personal bike or through a dock-less or traditional bike-share membership, biking is a valuable piece of the mobility puzzle.

Doing Better

According to the FTA’s Manual on Pedestrian and Bicycle Connection to Transit, less than 1% of trips to or from transit are by bicycling. The largest mobility mode in conjunction with transit is walking, with close to 85% modal share of the trips going to or from stops. 

There’s not nearly as many connections by biking as there could be, especially given the value bicycling has on connecting quickly with other mobility options or the flexibility in mobility it provides. As such, the FTA states biking in conjunction with transit:

  •       Extends the reach of transit
  •       Supports more multimodal trips and more options
  •       Alleviates overcrowding on transit
  •       Serves as redundancy in case of transit outages

These benefits have direct connection to mobility management. Extending reach, supporting more options, redundancy. All are important features mobility managers should care about.

Allowing people, if able and wanting, a chance to expand their mobility options starts with getting people comfortable riding a bike. This begins at an early age, with education in schools on bike and street safety (or later in life if someone is interested). The largest component though is appropriate infrastructure. Complete streets, secure & plentiful bike parking, more opportunities to ride a bike and bringing bikes on buses, vans, or other forms of transit can make sure that the connections bicycles offer are actually utilized and worthwhile.

Making it so more people feel comfortable biking benefits all, even those not doing so. When street design favors more vulnerable road-users, say cyclists on a shared road with larger motor vehicles, drivers become more aware of their surroundings and those they’re sharing the road with. Granted, even without these infrastructure investments, people will still bike in any condition, anywhere, if they feel it will benefit them or if they have no other option.

Consider the Bike

Mobility managers should be looking at what bicycling can offer to those in their community. The opportunity to shorten trip times, access additional transit stations, gain independence in mobility, decrease transit costs or increase physical exercise are all potential reasons individuals will look to add bicycling to their suite of mobility options. Consider setting them up with their own bike or looking into a bike library program like Allen County, Kansas’.  Advocate for more complete streets for a better journey for all users.

The ubiquitous and universal technology of the bike can and should be applied anywhere, to any place. However, as long as biking is seen as dangerous and inconvenient, most community members won’t see the bicycle as the valuable form of transportation it is. Standing up for more complete streets and options in biking can change that mindset. As mobility managers, the priority is helping people get where they need to go and bicycles can be a great, often overlooked, tool to add to any individual’s mobility toolbox.

Bike Trail in Allen County, KS

Tags:

We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Kirby Wilhelm (wilhelm@ctaa.org).