If you've tried to use the bus bike rack, you know there's room for improvement.
Due to delays, overcrowding, or expensive fares, or perhaps, a combination of the three, over the past few months TTC ridership has not shown the growth the transit agency expected.
But what if the TTC made it more enticing for riders to use a mixed commute? People could pedal past the most congested subway stops and hop on when it was most convenient for them, freeing up some much needed space for other straphangers. It could even allow cyclists to bypass delays and ease their rush-hour claustrophobia.
Of course, given current obstacles, there are limits to these possibilities.
Currently bicycles are not permitted on subways and streetcars during peak hours (6:30 to 10 a.m. and 3:30 to 7 p.m.) from Monday to Friday. This means that if you worked a traditional nine-to-five job and wanted to take your bike with you on the subway, you’d have to squeeze through the narrow half-hour window once stations open (roughly around 6 a.m.) and you wouldn’t be able to get back on until after 7 p.m.
While the rush-hour bike bans were put in place because of crowding on subways and streetcars, one might anticipate that the introduction of a downtown relief line might spark a change in the bike ban. Although the province announced recently that they are allocating $150 million to the planning and design for the project, it will likely take at least 13 years for the new subway line to be built. So that’s not a short term fix.
TTC busses provide an exception to the rush-hour ban on bikes, as most are equipped with bike racks that allow commuters to stow their bicycles on the front of the vehicles while they ride. These racks, however, are only ever capable of carrying two bikes at a time. It is also outside the driver’s responsibilities to ensure the same person who stowed the bike is the one removing it from the rack, leaving bike thieves a small window of opportunity. According to TTC regulations it is not permitted to lock a bike to the bus racks as this can increase delays. A bus driver could at any time, refuse to allow a cyclist to use the racks if he or she felt it was unsafe or for any other reason.
Expanding bike parking near TTC stations could encourage users to practice a mixed commute. The TTC in partnership with the City has already installed a bicycle station (indoor bike room) at Union Station and at Victoria Park station that allow for commuters to leave their bikes in a slightly more secure space. City Cycling Manager Jacquelyn Hayward-Gulati says that they are building a bike station at Nathan Phillips Square and are working on integrating them into the new Eglinton Crosstown LRT project. Hayward-Gulati says that a new bike parking strategy is being initiated later this year and could be completed within the next 18 months. Cycling to transit and bike parking around stations, particularly close to TTC limits where more people are likely to bike for part of their trip, are set to be addressed in the new plan.
This article was made possible by Urbane Cyclist.