Bike friendly public transit is crucial for many, if not most bike commuters. The ability to thermoregulate, conserve energy, and get to/from places more quickly, and safely, are some of the reasons why bike commuters hop on the bus. In the past nine months bike commuting, these are my top lessons learned and tips for navigating the Fort Collins Trans Fort bus system with a bike.
- Plan your route in advance. If you have a connecting bus to catch, many of them only run every 1/2 hour during peak times and every hour non-peak times. Missing a connection, and it can easily happen by seconds, can make or break your ability to get to work or appointments on time. You need to time your commute carefully. One of the best ways to do this is to do a “practice commute” first. Map out your route including busses and time yourself from your starting point to your destination so you know in advance what you’re going to navigate.
- Utilize bus holds. You can request your bus driver call ahead to your connecting bus and request what’s known as a “bus hold”. If your bus is running behind to the extent you are going to miss your connection, your connecting bus will wait up to five minutes for you to arrive.
3. Arrive at your stop at least 10 minutes early. The MAX only has four bike trays/hangers and they fill up quickly! If you have a bike and want to get on the bus when all four bike bays are occupied, you cannot get on the bus. Even worse, main line busses only have three bike trays on a folding rack on the front of busses. It’s first come, first serve for on-board bike storage.
4. Remove easily removable items. Unfortunately, there are crummy people in the world and sometimes, they steal things off of your bike while its on the bus. Even if you are just feet away! This means take your water bottle, lights, U-Locks, and whatever else someone can grab and go. Some dude tried to take my front bike light off my bike right before he exited the MAX but I saw him, caught him before the theft occurred, and learned an important lesson. When the bus is jam packed, like the picture below, it’s impossible to see your bike unless you are close.
- Sit close to your bike. Its a good strategy to stay close to your bike so you can keep an eye on it plus, it’s nice being a nice person and helping other bike commuters get on and off the bus.
Some of these tips may leave one with the impression that bringing your bike on a bus is a total pain or that it’s unsafe. Neither are true. When you are prepared, use common sense, and plan ahead, utilizing the bus as part of your commute or a weekend bike adventure is just simply an awesome service and an adventure!You’ll frequently have time to listen to music, read, or just relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. And, on occasion, you may meet some new, kindred bike commuters as well.