Bike Racks on Light Rail

Bike Racks on Light Rail
Phoenix AZ, Dec 2007

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A recap of the bicycles on Houston light rail issue

SUMMARY

  • Houston needs to develop transit in order to continue to grow and prosper. We cannot continue to build roads and promote single-occupant private car use as in earlier decades and hope to address congestion, ozone, energy efficiency, economic justice, human health, and global climate change
  • The key question is - how to get Houstonians out of their cars and onto transit?
  • If people aren't in their cars, then they are either walking to transit or bike riding to transit
  • Many bicyclist customers need to have their bicycles with them in order to complete their journey. The transit vehicle must accommodate it
  • METRO has a very good bicycles on buses program, which is experiencing astronomical growth rates
  • METRO has a highly restrictive bicycles on light rail program which completely misses morning and afternoon rush hour. Bikes banned from start of day until 9:00 am, then banned again from 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm
  • One reason why METRO cannot accommodate more bikes in a safe manner on the trains is that they failed to install simple, inexpensive, bike hanger hooks on the Red Line
  • Another reason why METRO cannot accommodate bikes on the Red Line is due to sheer overcrowding of the train on that line at peak hours at some locations
  • Concerning bike parking - the University Corridor Final EIS specifically excludes the possibility of installing bike racks at transit stops. This is of great concern. Pages 11-98 and 11-99
  • Conclusion - the impression left on bicyclist customers is that METRO wants to make the light rail system a "bike free zone"

THE WAY FORWARD

Other cities with newly-built light rail systems are able to accommodate bikes on light rail at all times - Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland. Why not Houston? METRO needs to:

  1. Hire a full-time AICP-certified bicycle planner
  2. Involve the bike community. Don't treat bicyclists (and other customers, for that matter) as lepers, unclean. Customers are the reason for METRO's existence
  3. Order the bike hangers for the train cars, four per car. Doing it right the first time is cheaper than retrofit and rework
  4. Shrink the "no bikes" time periods based on actual data, not arbitrary fiat. We know that the currently policy is arbitrary in nature, because bikes are banned at 4:30 am on weekdays. What is the occupancy of the light rail at 4:30 am? For the central spine of the system, the Red Line, it may not be possible to ever allow bikes on during the most congested periods. But Red Line conditions may not exist on the other lines. Some lines may be able to carry bikes at all times. But if they don't have the right hardware (bike hangers), it's going to be harder for them to do that
  5. Provide safe, secure, abundant bike parking at all transit stops
  6. Prepare to enjoy swiftly growing light rail ridership involving bicyclists and a DNA-level transformation of the Houston transportation scene. Houston could become a Bicycle City

ENDORSEMENTS

The bikes on light rail concept supported during the 2008 Mayoral campaign by Mayor Annise Parker, Peter Brown, and Gene Locke

Letters of support for bikes on trains sent to METRO by County Judge Ed Emmett, and Commissioners Steve Radack, Sylvia Garcia, Jerry Eversole, and El Franco Lee in 2008

Letter of support for bikes on trains sent to METRO by Councilmember Anne Clutterbuck in 2008

Letter of support for bikes on trains sent to METRO by UH Chancellor Renu Khator in 2008

Endorsed by the Houston Sierra Club

Endorsed by Citizens' Environmental Coalition

A joint project of Citizens' Transportation Coalition,BikeHouston, and Texas Bicycle Coalition


MEDIA COVERAGE

KUHF Radio Story, October 12, 2009 by Rod Rice

Houston Chronicle Traffic Column, May 17, 2009 by Carrie Feibel,with quote from CM Clutterbuck

Off The Kuff blog by Charles Kuffner

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I found your page while Googling for background information so I can write a letter to Mayor Parker's office. I am a cyclist and a registered nurse that commutes to the Texas Medical Center by riding my bike to the light rail and taking it into work. I support you and anyone who tries to make our mass transit system or accessible to all Houstonians, especially pedestrians and cyclists. Thanks for the website and all your hard work.