City staff last week recommended that no bicycle should be allowed on the new LRT during the peak transit hours. The rush hour has been defined as 6-9 am and 3-6 pm. I find that a pretty broad definition of rush hour. It boils down to 50% of the time people travel to and from work (6-6). Yes the public service is at the bus stop at 3 pm sharp, but I doubt that the trains are so packed at 3 pm that you can’t fit 2-4 bikes in a train. I also don’t believe the trains are packed to the rafters before 7 am.
Will we actually take bikes on the LRT?
I have not seen data on how many bikes we can actually expect during this 6 hour peak time. I think there won’t be too many in the first place. Large parts of the city aren’t serviced by the LRT now and even though I live 4 kilometer from Mooney’s Bay station and 5 kilometer from Tunney’s, it doesn’t even occur to me to take LRT. By the time I cover those kilometers by bike to the station I am already at Preston St.
I can see people cycling 5-6 km to Tunney’s from further west, say Britannia Bay, but unless you have to go to Blair, you might as well bike the other 3 km to downtown. I think very few cyclists are willing to pay over 6 dollars (in and out) to cover the remaining 3 kilometers. There might be people though who bike in 12 km east from Blair and then hop on the LRT but I am guessing there won’t be too many. In short, I think we shouldn’t overreact and throw another ban in. And what happens if your rack and roll bus is 10 minutes late and you arrive at 3:07 pm at Blair? Do I have to sit at Tim Horton’s until 6?
Dutch railway providers
I thought I look up what the Dutch railways providers do. They move 1,1 million people a day, running 4800 scheduled domestic trains. 600,000 passengers arrive by bike at 400 stations. Hence the enormous bicycle parking garages you see on social media on a regular basis. In 2017 the railways provided 14,500 bicycles at 300+ locations. The bikes were taken on 3.2 million rides. This is because the railways realise that trains and bicycles are wonderful complimentary modes of transport. They even provide rental bikes to attract customers.
Shorter peak times
The Dutch railways have peak times too and indeed you can’t take your bike on the train during 5 hours per day. You can take a foldable bike at all times though. But even with these massive numbers they move, the peak times are shorter: from 6:30 am until 9 am and from 4 pm to 6:30 pm.
So I think the fear of armies of cyclists rolling down the escalator clogging up LRT is unfounded. Since we are aiming to be a smart city, that promotes data based decision making, I suggest we just see what happens and do some piloting first. A ban might not even be necessary.
The real elephant in the room is the double bass: will double basses be banned from LRT too during peak periods? We don’t know the numbers, so I recommend we don’t allow them either.
Photo credit: https://www.artnewsportal.com/art-news/industry-insights-with-stewart-barry-brisbane-fringe-festival