16 January 2011 Politics

Bikes and buses: friends or foes?

I had some time to kill at the Lausanne metro station today, so like a good planning student I read the fine print of the Lausanne Public Transit bike policy (they had a poster on the wall). It is astonishingly different from what I had expected. Here’s the relevant part, translated from French (original here).

Cyclists already have one method of transportation at their disposal; therefore, public transit is an alternate form of transport for them … At morning and evening rush hour, it is nearly impossible to board our vehicles with a bicycle. Cyclists must be conscious of these constraints.

Compare that to the policy of Grand River Transit, which has installed bike racks on the front of all its buses:

Combine the energizing activity of cycling with the convenience of GRT. You will find a bike rack on every GRT bus. Each rack holds two bikes of most sizes and styles. If the bike rack is full you may board the bus with your bike. Make bus ‘n’ bike your convenient choice - for your health, your pocketbook and your environment!

Notice the diametrically opposed ideology of the two transit operators. Lausanne sees cycling as an isolated method of travel, parallel to (and incompatible with) the bus and metro network. GRT, on the other hand, recognizes that cycling is not always a substitute for a long bus ride - and that the bus network can mesh seamlessly with the bike network to give travelers continuity between modes of transportation.

I find this particularly astonishing because Lausanne has such good coordination between other modes of public transportation - bus, light rail, and commuter train - with concentrated nodes that make it easy to transfer and get where you need to go. It even has a city-wide bike sharing program; one would think the cycling network should be built into its overall transit strategy a little better.

Sam Nabi

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