It is still fairly new for Ottawa, but I see gradual changes coming: cycling to a bus stop or a transport hub. I have been a fan of this concept for a long time, naturally because I have been exposed to it in the Netherlands for many years. The large bike parking systems in the Netherlands you read about regularly are the proof that if you have a well functioning public transport system and a safe route to get to that hub, travellers will eventually embrace this system of cycling/walking and public transit.
In the Netherlands, about 600,000 or over 50% of the train commuters arrive by bike at a train station. And that doesn’t count people like me, who travel for leisure outside the peak hours (40% discount and avoiding the masses). For a few Euros, you can take your bike on a train too.
Multi-modal coin is dropping
Finally, I think the multi-modal coin is dropping in Ottawa too. I have been noticing people taking a bike to a bus stop more and more and leaving their bikes hooked up to bus stop posts and nearby traffic signs and lamp posts. That looks awkward as the bikes sometimes block the side walk and the entrance to the shelter.
Therefore, last December, councillor Egli (Ward 9) tabled a motion to set aside $30,000 for ring and posts at individual bus stops, the cost of less than one car parking spot at a city transit hub. That comes to $600 a post, more than my bike is worth. That is good, so thieves will steal the rack and leave my bike alone.
Why not just put them in, you may ask. Well that wasn’t legally possible and therefore the motion suggests to waive the requirements of the City’s Municipal Parking Management Strategy to install bike racks only in paid parking areas.
GTA adjusting park and rides
Toronto this week came out with the news that GO train folks are finally understanding that there is no such thing as free parking. Each parking spot (!) they have to build is $40,000 too. In the GTA, with ever increasing land values, this is unsustainable. And it is silly anyway. Why pave over land with impermeable asphalt, rather than have half a village of multi story housing at those hubs (and dare I suggest, some retail). From what I understand, is that the focus in the GTA will now be on walking and cycling to stations as many commuters arriving by car apparently live only a few kilometers from a station in the first place. That (ahem) focus in the GTA was there ten years ago, but little was done. You know, you just get carried away sometimes by assuming the car is king.
Committee for the Approval of the Implementation of Ring-and-Post BIcycle Parking Systems
In Ottawa you can currently suggest a ring and post at a bus stop. The city is not going overboard though. There are 50 posts to be installed, an average of 2 (!) per ward, and you can help decide where they go. The on line process is super easy (kudos to the city for that): you can simply drag and drop a blue ‘P’ near a grey bus stop pin.
All the suggestions go on a big pile to the Committee for the Approval of the Implementation of Ring-and-Post Bicycle Parking Systems of the Amalgamated City of Ottawa, sub committee Bus Stops, which decides who is getting a post at their bus stop. There is an option to add a photo, which I suggest you do. The posts will be installed in early fall, in time to cycle to that stop even when the first snow falls. You can submit until April 30th, and I noticed on the maps, there has been some activity already.
Ring-and-Posts or Racks?
There is a bit of confusion though: the request to suggest locations talks about ring-and-post, which allows only 2 bikes, but the motion talks about bike racks which I consider the systems for 4-5 bikes on each side. I am hoping we get racks, I fear we get ring-and-post, which allows a grand total of 200 people a day to lock their bike at a bus stop in Ottawa. Compared with the $40,000 to build one car parking spot for 1 (!) person, this is progress.