Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Making Transit more Bike Friendly

As a cyclist I have noticed that transit systems or even pedestrian pedways in Calgary and Edmonton are not very bike friendly.  Calgary is currently going through a trial phase with bike racks on their bus', and Edmonton is in the process of implementing bike racks on more bus'.  However the LRT systems in either cities are very limiting towards cyclist in that they will not allow bicycles onto to the train during peak hours.  I can see where they are coming from, as the trains at these times are packed and a bike would take up more room where it already limited. 

This has prevented me from bringing my bike when I need to take the train to visit friends during rush hours.  I like to bring my bike on the train so that I don't have to rely on poorly designed bus routes after disembarking.  By bringing my bike, I can leave the destination LRT station when I want to, and I can get where I need to quickly. 

To correct the problem bikes on the trains, I would like to propose this nifty idea I found about not too long ago.  In the photo below you will notice a bike rack platform coupled to the front of a train.  This sort of system would be quick for cyclist to load their bike into and hop onto the train. 

Bike rack LRT attachment.

You would have to make some modifications for a high floor LRT vehicle design by raising the bike rack to platform height.  I could even see hydraulics being utilized so if you have multiple LRT styles (high and low floor vehicles), you could simply design a one model fits all systems bike rack.  With an LRT attachment like the one displayed bicyclists would not have to limit their travel outside peak hours, and you LRT passengers wouldn't have to deal with the hassle with having bikes on the train.

LRT stations in either Calgary or Edmonton are not very bike friendly either, due to over the top bunker style platforms.   The culprits are the suburbia central platform designs that consist of several flights of stairs in order to go under or over the train tracks.

Photo showing Belvedere Station on the Edmonton LRT

A simple remedy would be to install a humble bike ramp channel on the stair cases.  It is physically exhausting to lift your bike up and carry it up or down several flights of stairs.  The bike ramp would not take up much room on any given staircase and would allow a cyclist to push their bike up the stairs.  This puts less strain on ones body and is safer since people don't have to awkwardly juggle the acts of carrying a bike and walking up a flight of stairs.  These bike rails are already installed on some of the stair cases that connect Edmonton's river valley to downtown, and I would like to see them carry this over to their LRT stations and pedways.  I have found that some of the "Plus15's" (Calgary's term for their pedways) around Calgary do not all have the bike ramps as well.

An example of a cyclist utilizing a bike ramp.

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