The Bike/Public Transport Interface

25 11 2010

Some interesting things about the bike / public transport interface:

1. The Last Mile problem.

People will use a bus stop or train station 3.5km away from their house if they can cycle there, where as if they’re walking they’ll walk only 500 metres. So with more people using bikes less routes can be provisioned, and the frequency and quality of those services could be improved (well they could if more than 5% of people cycled to the station)

2. Bike racks on buses.

Christchurch has bike racks on some of its buses. They only take two bikes, and if they’re full you have to wait for the next bus, but they are quite cheap to install on a bus, and can cost as low as $1000 or so per rack to install. The NZTA recently published a study of the bike/PT interface in NZ cities (everything Tauranga and bigger) and came up with an interesting fact – the benefits of putting bike racks on the front of buses is about 5 times the cost of installing them. Which would suggest that all of Wellington’s 500 buses should have bike racks installed. And once Celia’s light rail to the airport gets built there can be bike trailers on the Wellington tram.

3. Better secure bike facilities.

The NZTA study only considered bike lockers for secure storage (although they’re not that secure. I’ve heard of bike lockers getting broken into at Paraparaumu Station.) Bike lockers are definitely better than these monstrosities:

But there are better alternatives to the upside-down giant shuttlecocks and the not too secure secure lockers. See what they are installing around Melbourne – Parkiteer cages. They have electronic card access. Unlike secure lockers where you are limited to renting a single locker meaning you always have to ride to the same stop, with the parkiteer scheme you can lock your bike reasonably securely at any station that has the facility. I’d much prefer parkiteer style sheds in Wellington to the current secure bike lockers.

4. Bikes on trains

One of the recommendations of the above mentioned NZTA study is:

Current public transport services in major New Zealand centres should be reviewed to determine whether vehicles and contracts can be altered to allow bicycles onboard. Providing for BoB (bikes on buses) public transport services will give a good economic return sufficient to justify the investment.

That I would say should go for trains too.  I heard rumours that the Wellington Regional Council is reviewing it’s bikes on trains initiatives and it could be taken away from us.

5. Bike share

Auckland’s has just gone bust. Advertising as the model of funding bike share doesn’t really work. Integration into the electronic ticketing system and integration into the secure bike parking electronic card system are needed to make these things work. Then again the electronic ticketing systems need to be integrated with other electronic ticketing systems. Snapper doesn’t work with the Newlands Mana cards which won’t work with Auckland’s, which won’t work with Perth’s, which won’t work with Brisbane’s, or Melbourne’s. Why can’t one smartcard work all the way from Fremantle, WA to Invercargill?

So to summarise – a bike/public transport interface would be great if there actually was an effective one.


This man is an utter fool

23 11 2010

I’ll let Eric Thompson, Motorsport reporter, of the NZ Herald talk for himself as he says bikes shouldn’t be on roads.

What an utter fool. I hereby call for Eric Thompson’s drivers license be suspended until he actually understands what the rights and responsibilities of being a motorist actually are.

Oh yeah he’s so smart and clever, and has all the answers. Look see:

“In that case, I would like to suggest a couple of other solutions:

* All pushbikes must be fitted with rear-vision mirrors – as all other vehicles on the road are required by law;

* All pushbikes must be fitted with indicators, or a similar device – as all other vehicles on the road are required by law;

* They can only ride single-file on a single-lane road unless overtaking – as all other vehicles on the road are required by law;

* Be fitted with headlights that must be on at all times – as other two-wheeled vehicles on the road are required by law;

* All bike riders must pass a road-licence test – as are all other people who venture on to public roads;

* All pushbikes must be registered and pay a road tax – as all other vehicles on the road are required by law (don’t whinge, motorcyclists have to pay for their car and their motorbike).”

Really. I myself would have thought that slowing cars down, and getting rid of drunk drivers, and making it illegal to pass a cyclist within 1.5 metres would be a better way to go about it. Really registration? Where has that old pearler ever worked? It is the Godwin’s law of road transport. What the hell is the Herald doing hiring a monkey like Eric? No wonder it’s not worth buying newspapers anymore.

Why do we spend billions of dollars on roads and motorways to facilitate the movement of idiots like Eric, and we spend peanuts on improving bicycle infrastructure in and between towns?

I also call for the end of motorsport, and Eric could then report on something more exciting like some paint drying somewhere.

Is the Rimutaka Rail trail under threat?

21 11 2010

I’ve ridden the Rimutaka Rail Trail a few times. It is a pleasant way to spend a day, and indeed every time I’ve been on it on bike or on foot I’ve always seen a lot of other people using it. The original railway was built in 1878, and operated until 1955 as the Rimutaka Incline Railway. It used Fell Locomotives to get over the steep grades (up to 1 in 12), which by how many times the forest caught alight, and by the number of accidents, must have been a bit of a bugger. It went so slow the passengers would often get out and walk. So when the 8.8km Rimutaka Tunnel was built through the mountains from Maymorn to Featherston they shut the incline railway down. A section of it from Kaitoke to Cross Creek is now the Rimutaka Rail Trail. On the Wairarapa side from Cross Creek to the Western Lake Road there is a short bit of single track, and back in the Hutt (with potential links to the Hutt River Trails) it is possible to get to the start from Kaitoke, from Tunnel Gully, or through the tunnel at Maymorn. In other words it is a well used recreational asset for the Wellington region, making use of a now economically unimportant railway route. If it was taken away from the public it would be a bloody great shame. (Instead as I have said before it should be made into part of the National Cycleway with links down the Western Lake Road, to Martinborough, and through the Wairarapa northwards).

Is it under threat? Well have a look at the grandiose plans of the rail enthusiasts called The Rimutaka Incline Railway Heritage Trust. I’m reluctant to slag off railway enthusiasts, because I love trains, I love history, and hence I love historic trains. I love riding them, and photographing them. I am a bit of a train geek, but I am going to point out the folly of it all.

The Trust has been around since 2003, and is a registered charitable organisation. Their stated aim is to get the incline railway going again. Now it is an obvious folly of course, and most of the people I have mentioned it to have scoffed at the idea, and thought it not worth worrying about because it would cost millions of dollars, and after 7 years they have 40 members (which is less than the number of people using the rail trail on a sunny day) and have raised a little over $100,000.

So here’s what they want to do. They want to plan, fund, reinstate and operate a tourist heritage railway on the former railway route between Upper Hutt and Featherston. Well there goes the rail trail I hear you say, but no they have thought of everything, including replacement paths for hikers and cyclists that would follow the route (but not go through the tunnels – which are the coolest bit of the ride, so kind of ruining it for those who enjoy it how it is now).

Then there is the little bit of common sense they seem to be missing. The hillsides regularly burnt because of sparks and embers coming from the coal powered locomotives. Pakuratahi Forest is now a commercial pine forest. How is the Trust going to pay for the forest that it would inevitable set fire to?

So it would cost millions, it would set the forest alight, it would destroy a unique recreational asset, and it would attract only a handful of tourists that wouldn’t even cover the running costs. So take a step back fellas, and re-examine your plans. Are they realistic? Are they achievable? Is it even wanted by the rest of the community? Run a steam train between Upper Hutt and Maymorn or something, maybe. (Although if I lived on the route I’d point out that steam trains are filthy as). At Maymorn rent out bicycles and torches. Add to the history displays that are already there. Make it really interesting for those who come and see. It’d be quite cool to see your working locomotive at Maymorn, ride a bike one way between Maymorn and Featherston over the rail trail, stopping for all the displays, then see the Fell Locomotive Museum and then come back on the extant rail line on a normal Masterton to Wellington train.

In contrast it’d really suck to ride a Fell Locomotive over what was once the Rail Trail.

Fellas you’re dreaming.