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Bike racks are turning up on city buses here: Are Cedar Rapids bicyclists and local bus riders the same people?

In City Hall on March 21, 2009 at 9:19 pm

It seems so Seattle or Madison or Ann Arbor or Iowa City.

By May 1, the city of Cedar Rapids will have installed bicycle racks on the front ends of 27 of the city’s new and newer buses.

Some of the racks are in place now, though Brad DeBrower, the city’s transit manager, reports that no bicycle enthusiast or bus regular has yet inquired about them. He is planning a public service announcement once most of the racks are in place.

Almost to a person on the city’s nine-member City Council is a desire to make the city more welcoming to bicyclists, both those who are out for a ride and those who want to use a bicycle to commute to work.

Even now, the city is attempting to become the state’s only bicycle-friendly community, a status bestowed on a city by the League of American Bicyclists. Bike racks on buses are part of trying to get there. Places like Madison, Wis., and Eugene, Ore., and Ann Arbor, Mich., are bicycle-friendly places.

The City Council also has been insisting that major street projects in the city take into consideration bicyclists and pedestrians, which can mean wider-than-normal sidewalks along major streets.

As for the bicycle racks on city buses, the idea is a captivating one. For instance, the rack-on-bus amenity would allow someone to ride a bike to the bus stop, place the bicycle on the bus bike rack and ride the bus to work. Once the work day is over, the bicyclist then could peddle home.

It remains to be seen, though, if the marriage of the bicycle and the city bus actually works in Cedar Rapids. Are the people who ride bicycles here the same people who ride the bus?

Look for council member Tom Podzimek — a proponent of public transit and bicycles — to have a bicycle hanging off a bus some time soon.

  1. This is absolutely a step in the right direction. Expanding public transit is a chicken and egg problem in Cedar Rapids. How can you spend money to expand services without a guaranteed increase in ridership, but how can you increase ridership without improving services? There are many options, and bike racks on buses is one of those. They provide a way for potential riders to get to bus stops that are farther than a reasonable walking distance, thus expanding the bus availability area without investing in more buses which is expensive, or changing routes which impacts existing riders. It is great to see the transit organization making progress in the metro area.

  2. I commend the city for doing this, as well as generally wanting to make the city more bicycle friendly. Our bus system is incredibly inadequate the way it is currently running, and by adding bike racks to the buses it can actually be argued that the buses would cover a reasonable portion of the city.

    The one thing I think this needs to actually become useful is a schedule listing which routes are going to have the bike racks installed, and every bus on that route would have to have a rack. Nobody would use them if the bus they would take in the morning only have a chance of having a bike rack.

  3. Sam-

    Something else that would go a LONG way towards helping the Bus system would be an online map that allows a person to turn on and off different routes, to see which ones come near their house. All of the maps that exist online so far are individual PDF files that are nearly impossible to compare to one another. Yes, they’re incredibly detailed in terms of street names, but they don’t even include the regular stops on the maps. I haven’t looked at the paper maps to know how they compare.

  4. I agree CR Transit needs to be doing a better job on route information. A system map really doesn’t seem like that much to ask for. At CyRide, in Ames, which added bike racks to about a third of their bus fleet last year denotes the trips in the published schedule and online which ones are guaranteed to have a bike rack. I’m interested to see how much these are used in Cedar Rapids, which lacks a large college student population. On the other hand, CR is much more spread out than Ames so biking to a bus stop seems more likely (as opposed to just riding the entire trip since Ames is relatively compact).

  5. Again a City trying to be something it’s not. Most places where this seems to work have what? MAJOR Universities

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