In honour of Car Free Day, a post about bicycles.
Let me state my outlook right up front: I am a pedestrian, and I do not own, let alone ride, a bicycle. My relationship with these two-wheeled vehicles often consists of nearly being run down by them.
Having said this, I accept the premise that bicycles should be viewed as an important part of our transportation repertoire. The question is this: how can we meaningfully integrate them with the transit system?
Efforts to date have attracted a lot of discussion — bike racks on buses, off-peak carriage on surface and subway vehicles — but frankly I don’t think these contribute much to creating a workable culture for bikes on the TTC.
Bike racks have a limited capacity, and the number of travellers, especially in peak periods, whose trips could be carried partly via bike rack is a very small proportion of system ridership. Moreover, since most trips involve at least some subway travel, and bikes cannot enter the subway during peak periods, many trips simply cannot be made with a bike/TTC combination.
Recently, the City has begun to install bicycle lockers around town. Indeed, there are three down on the mall in front of Scarborough Civic Centre where I work (not for the City). Three lockers compared with the acres of parking around here are nothing in anyone’s grand scheme. They may give a few politicians a photo op, but they make no real contribution to regional transportation capacity.
Regular readers here will know there has been some debate about TTC parking lots. Why, one might ask, doesn’t the TTC and its pro-bike Chair concentrate on providing capacity for bicycle storage at parking lots beside subway stations? This would allow cyclists to ride to the subway, stash their bike and continue on via transit. (Yes, if they wanted to bike at the other end of the trip, this is not much help, but their bike isn’t going on the subway anyhow.)
Maybe we could even let Metropass holders use the bicycle storage facilities free of charge just like motorists. (You have to imagine a Machiavellian grin here which no collection of punctuation can duplicate.)
If the TTC and its pro-bicycle Commissioners want to do something useful for cyclists, why don’t they look at the big picture? Make it easy for people to have a cycle/TTC trip and put them on the same footing (yes, I couldn’t resist that one) as motorists. If cycling is going to be an alternative for cars, it needs to have comparable facilities to be integrated with transit travel.