Bikes On Board
- From the Stamford Advocate
Bikes On Board Program Gains Momentum
September 30, 2002
By Jonathan Lucas, Staff Writer
STAMFORD -- The CTTransit bus company's Bikes on Board program could not have gotten off to a rougher start.
Introduced days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, news of the debut was lost. But in the year since bike racks were installed on all 51 CTTransit buses in the Stamford division, the program is catching on, and state officials are pedaling its success.
The number of riders who hop on buses with their bicycles has climbed steadily. Since the program started, when six people used the new racks, bike ridership has posted strong monthly gains. A high of 194 bike riders boarded buses last month.
Through the first half of this month, bike racks have been used 85 times, CTTransit figures state.
"In a year, we've really come a long way," said Bob Calling, CTTransit's Stamford division manager.
Calling believes more bikes are carried aboard buses but go unreported by drivers. He said the program is growing through word of mouth and because of the high visibility racks on the front of buses.
"People see it, and that's probably our best advertising right there," Calling said.
CTTransit has stepped up its marketing efforts to promote use of bike racks by reaching out to bicycle shops and setting up booths at festivals.
Each bus can carry two bikes. CTTransit reported the racks were full about a dozen times in August.
The busiest routes were the Stamford-to-Norwalk and Stamford-to-Port Chester, N.Y., loops along Route 1.
Based on the success of the bike program in Stamford, CTTransit officials said they are considering installing racks on buses in New Haven and Hartford.
Phil Fry, assistant general manager of planning and marketing for CTTransit, said 80 of the 114 buses in the New Haven fleet are expected to be replaced late next year and will be outfitted with bike racks. He said Hartford's 228 buses will not receive the racks for at least two more years.
The racks cost about $1,000 each. CTTransit receives 80 percent of their funding from the federal government.
Bike racks have been in place on buses in other states for years, creating increasing numbers of bike commuters, the latest Census Bureau statistics state.
A comparison of data from the 1990 Census and the 2000 Census showed cycling as a primary form of commuting increased nationally by 9 percent. In Connecticut, there was an increase of 5 percent.
Bike commuting was up 38 percent in Massachusetts, 57 percent in New York and 97 percent in New Jersey, Census figures state.
Still, less than 1 percent of American workers regularly use bikes to get to their jobs, Census data shows.
The Connecticut Bicycle Coalition, which has been lobbying to install racks for more than five years, is working to get the racks on all CTTransit buses.
"The idea behind racks is very simple," said David Hiller, executive director of the bicycle coalition. "They add additional flexibility to the transportation network. . . . All we're doing is inviting another group of transportation consumers to use another service."
The Connecticut Bicycle Coalition
Advocates for Bicycling, Walking and Sustainable Development
One Union Place, Hartford, CT 06103