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Capital Metro to consider bikes on last-ride buses

Thursday, July 23, 2015 by Audrey McGlinchy, KUT

The Bicycle Advisory Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution asking Capital Metro to consider allowing bicycles on city buses for the final ride of the night. This would allow a bus with a full bike rack to still accept those riders carrying home bicycles.

While some members and attendees called for bikes on buses during peak hours or at all times, member Tom Wald said allowing them just during final rides could jump-start a conversation about more bikes on buses across Capital Metro’s transit schedule.

“Let’s start with just the last ride home,” he said. “I think if you break the ice by allowing it officially for last ride home, then it will be a tested thing, and it will be seen how it actually works.” Final rides on Capital Metro buses usually start around 11:30 p.m.

Wald’s motion to have Capital Metro look into allowing the proposal passed with a vote of 9-0.

Jolinda Marshall, a planner with Capital Metro, told the council Tuesday that she and her colleagues are in fact currently looking into permitting bikes on buses during final rides. The move is in response to a recent survey of more than 1,000 Austin residents that revealed that bike racks on buses are oftentimes full – and if a bus is on its final ride of the day, cyclists are left with few options.

Marshall told council members that she has also received calls from bartenders and servers saying that they must travel home from work late at night, but because of full bike racks, they frequently have to figure out another way of commuting.

According to the survey (conducted from March 5 to May 18), 40 percent of participants said bike racks on buses were often full. Fifty-two percent of those polled asked that the city add more bike racks.

After a similar survey conducted in 2010, Capital Metro did decide to increase the number of bike racks on its buses, raising the standard from two to three racks. Marshall said more than two dozen buses still need to be fitted with three racks.

The concern with letting bikes on buses has little to do with the number of riders, said Marshall. “The scariest problem is not the capacity of people on the buses, it’s the wheelchair,” she said. If someone is using a bus’s handicapped spot, there is often little room for a bike.

But lack of space on the night’s final bus rides potentially poses a larger problem – people not getting home safely. “If it’s the last one, there’s not going to be another one,” said Marshall.

Photo by WhisperToMe (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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