Friday, August 29, 2014

Why no bikes on Ceredigion buses.

With no intentioned or otherwise critisisum, I fear Alun Williams has a few more questions to ask in his very good blog on the lack of Bike rack facilities on Ceredigion busses.

He may well of asked them inside his head, but any conclusions are probably not blog material for Cabinate level local politicians, so I can't fault him at all.

So why are the places Alun has visited like Toronto and L.A. more Bike transport on bus friendly. I have seen the same in S.F., Boston and New York which it is

  • Easy to hire bikes
  • Easy to move them around on public transport (not sure about NYC).
  • Safer to cycle
As my good friend and keen cyclist Mr Gerhard points out that some members of the population of London think it sport to dismount cyclists, but the major US cities I have visited in the last few years are really getting with the plot in this respect, abit from a very low starting point and far from Universal. Cycling in somewhere like Stockton would be a nightmare and probably very short lived.

So lets get back to the why? I suspect the following are at play to greater or lesser extents

  • Competition. I don't mean competion between rival bus providers.  In rural Wales you are greatful that there is a bus at all. But compeition at the level of management. Firms is either family owned and run or like Arriva in decline from the business so what bright spark is going to choose running a bus company as a careeer, unless it is one of those very well run local firms (me thinks of Mid Wales Travel for example which is expanded exponetially in the last few years) and its in the family already ?
  • Competition. People live in mid-Wales because they either want to or because they don't know anything else and this results in inertia, you have what you have got and there is little culture of pressing for better services. Cities like Boston can mandate the form of the service and companies or there own departments have to comply.
  • Inovation happens elsewhere (which I think was a Bill Joy-ism). It is probably a bit much to expect quite small rural bus companies, in an area which is greatful to have any bus service, to be UK leaders in their cycle transport provision.
  • Ceredigion is rural. Bus speeds are probably higher and distance between stops is greater than in the cities cited.
  • The insurance and H & S situation may contain a non-zero  amount of FUD which is hard to hack and costly through.
  • There maybe a serious cost implication for the company. The racks my require bus modiciation which may be a factory job (it not like strapping a bike onto your car) and so may need to be ordered with such facilities. I would suspect the US example has the racks factory fitted, but that is conjecture.
some of the above may be wrong and there may be addtaional factors at play, but we need to starting thinking deeply about the positive and negative consequences short and long term for the companies to "do the right thing" if we want the behaviours(such has having bike racks on buses) to change.

Maybe the bus companies are acting very rationally to the environment in which they operate. We want change, we need to think about the above and more.

1 comment:

  1. I was impressed that in Cumbria they allowed bikes on busses. Although I did not take advantage of this service it did seem like a good way to allow people to travel what can be quite long distances for walking to a bus stop and then let the bus transport you longer distances than you would cycle. Now Cumbria may have more tourists so is not a perfect comparison but none the less shows it can be done.