Wednesday 12 February 2014

Getting the most out of using bikes and public transport together

Summary: To really exploit cycling for transport over longer distances and recreational trips you need to connect up effectively with public transport (especially trains) - both when you park your bike or if you take it with you. This post explains some of the ways you can take advantage of public transport once you adopt cycling.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by ㇹヮィㇳ
Related Posts:
The distance of your common trips does matter or you need good connections with public transport

Note: I focus on trains below as the primary public transport linkage with bikes as bikes cannot be taken on trams or buses in Melbourne and it's more likely to ride and park at train stations too.

1. Opportunities exist to link up with trains to commute, travel longer distances and enjoy recreation in places too far to ride
- Once you're cycling for transport and have a comfortable, connecting range of say 6km, a world of intermodal (bike + train) opportunities open up. Train lines you can cycle to significantly expand the destinations and types of trips you can make using a bike.

Going car-free- The biggest opportunity of factoring in bike-train trips is if it finally eliminates your need for a car (or second car). The financial and health benefits of eliminating a car from your life are significant.
Commuting to work- Most people will walk at most 2km to a train station. Or if getting to and from train stations takes too long will drive instead if possible.
- Using a bike enables you to live up to 6km away from a station and have as efficient access as if you lived within walking distance.
Affordable liveability- The most desirable and liveable parts of a city to reside often also have great public transport connections. By using a bike, you can afford to live outside the areas with the highest "walkability" price premiums but still easily access these desirable locations.
Get to many more places by bike- From your home estimate how far you can cycle in 60min and draw a circle around your home. Now estimate how far you can get in 60min by riding to a train station, catching a train and riding again at the other end. Your trip possibilities have expanded massively.
Recreational rail trails- Rail trails are old railways lines decommissioned and turned into scenic, cycling/walking paths. Australia, and especially Victoria, has some of the best rail trails in the world. The beauty is you can get to all of them without a car.
Go one way / Avoid weather- You can cycle all of the way one way and catch the train most of the way back if that saves time/energy or because the return trip is at night.
- Similarly, linking up with trains allows you to avoid the worst of any heat or rain while still using your bike.
One partner rides more- I'm a faster rider than my girlfriend and can enjoyably ride much further. Using trains allows us to go to the same destinations but she can ride less.
Carry more stuff- Public transport is a great way to take the load off big shopping trips if you can take your bike. You can ride on the way there and use public transport for the trip back.
Go up steep hills- In cities with steep, unavoidable hills hooking up with public transport can be very helpful. E.g. In San Francisco, bikes can be put on the front of the bus and you can catch the bus up the hill.

2. Personal examples of bike-train trips made in Melbourne
Note: My girlfriend and I do not have a car and using bikes and public transport (trains in particular) does contribute to not missing the car at all.

15km visit to friends house in Macleod- Rode 1.3km to Rushall station and then 1km from Rosanna station to friend's house
22km trip to Brighton beach- I rode there and back. My girlfriend caught the train.
30km winery trip in Woodend- Friend and I caught train to Woodend station and then rode 30km to 2 wineries for Budburst festival and then back to station. Was far more enjoyable than driving.
90km Around the Bay unofficial ride- On Around the Bay day caught regional train with friend to Bittern station (90km south of home) and then rode up back to Melbourne.
30km trip to birthday lunch in Mordialloc- Was too far to ride both ways so I caught the train down to Mordialloc station and rode back home with a strong tailwind.
 25km trip to Seville wineries- Girlfriend and I rode to 2 Shedfest wineries in Seville just off the beautiful Lilydale to Warburton rail trail.
47km winery trip in Yarra Valley- Four friends and I will catch the train to the end of the eastern line (Lilydale station). Then ride to 3-4 wineries including the Lilydale to Warburton rail trail.
62km trip to Mordialloc Food & Wine festival- To make the trip easier and quicker, a friend and I caught the train 21km south to Highett station. Then rode to Mordialloc and all the way back.

3. Public bike share data shows how cycling helps extend the access and value of public transport
- Public bike share data is one recent source of hard data demonstrating in which situations cycling is a substitute for public transport (e.g. short inner city trips) and in which situations it provides linkages that increase public transport use (e.g. used for the first and last mile of longer commutes). See: CityLab: The Most Persuasive Evidence Yet that Bike-Share Serves as Public Transit
In Minneapolis, home to the Nice Ride bike-share system, 14 percent of Nice Ride members increased rail use, with only 2 percent decreasing it (in a survey of 900 people). Most of those who increased rail use did so along the main commuter corridor, both near the downtown area and toward the outskirts. That makes sense in a midsized metro area like Minneapolis, where the rail network facilitates longer trips into and out of the core. Bike-share can facilitate the first and last mile of these trips, but can't compete with the entire journey.
CityLab: The Most Persuasive Evidence Yet that Bike-Share Serves as Public Transit

Further Info:
Public Transport Victoria - Bikes and public transport

Rail Trails - Victoria

Gen Y makes a sharp turn away from driving

Tram squeeze eases but some still suffer