A pleasing trial is starting on Waiheke Island which involves adding bike racks to buses to make it easier for cyclists to get around. The Waiheke Bus Company which is owned by Fullers has installed the racks on three buses and each rack can hold up to 3 bikes at one time.  Here’s the press release”

The Waiheke Bus Company has become the first public service bus operator in Auckland to offer bike racks on its buses as a trial and as part of its initiative to help promote cycling as a mode of transport.

Waiheke ferry customers can already take their bikes for free on the ferries and now this is extended to the service buses as well.

Bike racks have been installed on three separate buses, each capable of carrying 3 bikes each. The racks have been imported from the USA where they have been successfully deployed on public services buses.

The aim is to improve the options for cyclists and many commuters who choose to ride to and from the ferry terminal or who want to explore the island’s many cycle tracks, whilst giving them the flexibility of being able to hop on a bus with their bike in order to venture further, get home after dark when cycling can be hazardous, or in the case of cycling visitors, link up with the 360 Discovery ferry service that calls in at Orapiu Wharf and connects to The Coromandel on a regular basis. The Coromandel shuttle bus service from Hannaford’s Wharf to Coromandel Town now also provides bike rack options meaning cyclists can take their bikes even further.

At the launch at Matiatia today, attended by representatives of Auckland Transport, NZTA, Cycle Action and the Local Board, Fullers CEO Douglas Hudson said “Fullers has been committed to carrying passengers and their bikes on their ferry services for a long time and were awarded for being a cycle friendly business by NZTA at the CAN (Cycling Advocates’ Network)Awards in 2009.

We are very pleased to be able to extend this to the buses on Waiheke Island for the benefit of commuters and tourists who visit the island. This may only be a small step but it has taken a lot of effort to find and import the right racks that are sturdy enough to work effectively on the Waiheke roads. We hope that people will see this as an opportunity to explore more of the island and also connect with the 360 Discovery service that carries passengers from Orapiu at the Eastern end of the island to Coromandel, where the shuttle service from Hannaford’s Wharf to Coromandel town now also has bike racks on board.”

The trial, which will run until the end of Easter, will allow the Fullers owned Waiheke Bus Company to gather data and opinion from users before deciding how to adapt the service and how to develop it further.

Last summer the company worked with Cycle Action Waiheke and Auckland to produce a map of Waiheke cycle touring routes. Publicity about the map has encouraged increasing numbers of cyclists to tour the island, enjoying its cafes, vineyards, beaches and accommodation.

The bike racks are expected to be welcomed by local commuter cyclists and visitors alike. Touring cyclists may be encouraged to ride to the vineyards on the Onetangi Straight or even further afield, rather than stopping at Palm Beach, if they know the bus will help return them and their bike to the ferry or accommodation in Oneroa.

Cycle Action Waiheke supports the trial as an important local transport and tourism initiative for Waiheke. Chair Tony King Turner said “We thank Fullers for taking this step and see it as just the beginning of what could be very exciting developments for cycling on Waiheke. It will also be very important as we work towards our goal of getting Waiheke included in the National Cycle Way program.”

Barbara Cuthbert of Cycle Action Auckland is also impressed with the trial. “..having seen the positive impact that cycling initiatives can have on communities and how it can boost tourism, I am confident that when we look back at this moment in 10 years’ time, we will understand how important this launch and trial is.”

Auckland Transport also strongly supports this initiative and sees it as a good example of the private sector delivering outcomes that encourage integration between cycling and public transport. Such projects link very strongly to the work of Auckland Transport across the region in improving safety for cyclists and encouraging more sustainable travel

The bike racks will be used mostly on the Onetangi bus routes and feedback forms will be available at the Fullers ticket office at Matiatia as well as on the Fullers website.

This is obviously quite good for tourists who want to get around the island but don’t want to pedal the whole way but the thing I like about this is that it can really help to extend the reach of the bus system for residents. Instead of a bus only having a catchment of people who can walk to the bus stop it enables a far wider catchment of potential users which should help to make the buses more attractive. Hopefully after the trial is finished we will be see these racks installed by other bus companies in other parts of the region as I think it has the potential to help both boost bus patronage and the number of people cycling around the city and can be done without needing new vehicles or infrastructure to support it.

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  1. My experience with these in the US is that they simply add to delays at bus stops and with a maximum of 3 per bus hardly add to the patronage, who’s going to cycle and stand there waiting for A) a bus with a rack and B) a rack that isn’t full?. In my opinion, we should be encouraging people to cycle to train stations by providing better and more secure facilities for locking up your bike. If we want to grow the cycle + PT modeshare then these things on the front of buses aren’t going to help, they may rather put people off, I felt guilty making everyone wait the few times I struggled to put my bike on one; and have avoided them ever since.

  2. How much time does it take to load and unload a bike.
    How secure are the bikes – who is liable if one falls off?

    Peak bus timetables are already stretched as they are without additional pressure. Works well at a place like waiheke but I dont think it would work as well elsewhere.

  3. Isn’t it dangerous to have the bikes on the front of the bus? Collide with a pedestrian and an otherwise-survivable accident turns in to a decapitation via a handlebar through their head.

    What’s wrong with hanging bikes on the back of the bus?

    (I like the initiative though… I’ve done some long distance bicycle touring in Australia and it was always nice to find public transport operators who would ferry you across a river or harbour, or in to the center of a large city rather than leaving you to ride for a couple of hours through busy traffic. None charged me for my bike as far as I can recall, and many of the ferries were completely free to foot passengers.)

    1. I guess the problem with the back is that is is way down the back, out of the drivers view and far away from the door where you get on. The driver would have a real hard time seeing you load and unload your bike, and it would take longer.

      1. Presumably the driver has to get out of the bus and check the loading anyway. He will be the person who is responsible for ensuring that the bike is properly secured so that it doesn’t disengage from the rack and cause a hazard to pedestrians and other traffic.

  4. Wow, massive comments-negativity – way to go! For your info bbc, this is a private initiative, focused on a tourist / recreational destination. Not intended to add a few bicycle to the Dominion Road rush hour!

    1. @max – sorry if I come across as negatiive and this may very well be great for waiheke, nice to be able to take you bike to waiheke but I was more responding to the posts comment about this being expanded across rhe region. I don’t reckon it’s all that it’s cracked up to be and I don’t really think it has helped in the US. Cities like Seattle, in which almost all buses have these racks, still have poor cycling rates like Auckland. My concern is that stuff like this gets done rather than on the ground cycling infrastructure that will have more chance of changing perceptions in Auckland.

      1. Again, private initiative. Indeed, I myself would rather see cycleways built. But if Fullers wants to spend their private money on this to make it easier for cyclists to get around, more power to them.

        I also have heard through the grapevine that it has taken off like wildfire even though it is only days old, and is very well used.

  5. I’ll be interested to see how this goes in Waiheke. I’m also interested (as are others, obviously) in how it works (or doesn’t) internationally. I don’t think they’re appropriate everywhere, but they look like a useful tool to add to the mix.

    I was a cyclist in Canberra when they introduced them, but they were so sporadic that it wasn’t worth waiting and hoping for them on the few routes they were designated on. Consistency will be important.

  6. We do already have practical experience locally in Chch where they’ve been operating for more than two years. And local research has also identified the likely benefit – cost ratio of introducing bikes on buses in our major cities; between 2:1 – 10:1 per city. See http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/418/ for more info.

    Practically speaking, the standard racks take less than 10 seconds to put a bike on. And if we’re talking about a typical peak hour service you can probably be doing that loading while other passengers are boarding. The bike racks are pretty idiot-proof and hold onto the bikes very well despite any shaking about (no, the bus driver doesn’t have to get out and check). And I don’t think I’d be worrying about an infinitesimal chance of a bike injuring a pedestrian – it seems lately in NZ the buses do a pretty good job of doing that all by themselves…

    Important to remember that the point of bikes on buses is not to attract existing cyclists – they already bike where they’re going (although it might expand their range a bit). Rather, it’s to provide a viable competition for driving – combine the range and weather proofing of buses with the door-to-door directness of biking. I view them a bit like having ramps and wheelchair spaces on buses – they may not get used all the time but they’re there if you need them.

    1. “And I don’t think I’d be worrying about an infinitesimal chance of a bike injuring a pedestrian”

      Try welding a forward-facing bicycle handlebar to the bonnet of your car and see if you pass your WOF. There is a reason that even small hood ornaments are designed to break off if they’re hit by a pedestrian.

      Bus safety does seem to be an area of lower standards than apply to other vehicles. People stand in buses, walk around moving buses, and don’t wear seat belts. Buses are obviously involved in fewer serious accidents than cars, but there are far fewer buses than cars. Buses are driven by professionals and tend to be driven around urban areas at relatively slow speeds. But on the other hand they’re big and unwieldy. Intellectually I can’t justify lower safety standards for buses, although for practical reasons you’re not going to be able to do anything about people walking down bus aisles as if weaves through city streets at 50km/hr.

      1. From memory, according to Greater Wellington Regional Council statistics the risk of injury per kilometre for bus passengers is about a tenth of that faced by car occupants. So, perhaps the biggest single contribution that a potential car traveller can make to road safety (while still making the trip) is to go by public transport instead – despite people standing, walking around or not wearing seatbelts!

        Spending money on making buses safer would make travel by bus relatively more expensive and/or less convenient, encouraging people to use more dangerous modes instead. Not a wise move!

    2. If you get hit by a bus I don’t think it will matter whether you have a bike rack on the front or not.

      They have been using these for a while in CHCH, but I’m not sure how well used they are. There are also a lot more cyclists per capita in CHCH because it is flatter than Auckland. (but the drivers are just as crazy)

  7. It might get used by Waiheke commuters a bit who take their bike over to town (if they have a monthly pass, bus rides are included) and want to avoid inclement weather on dark mornings and evenings. For tourists I think the initiative would be less successful. Waiheke is quite hilly (much more so than mainland Auckland) and cycling is not something you would undertake lightly here without training. Waiheke should not be promoted as a cycling destination: the roads are narrow and windy (and quite a few unsealed) which makes them hazardous. Much safer to go on a tour bus, or hire a car or moped.

    1. Hans, have you been to Waiheke recently? Quite a few cyclists over there (certainly compared to a few years ago), and Fullers is reporting good use of their offer to take bikes over for free. Waiheke drivers are also amazingly courteous, at least on average (certainly my perception was that I’d prefer cycling on Waiheke than in many Auckland suburbs!), plus there are a number of new cycling lanes and a major shared path from the ferry terminal that have gone in over the last years. Finally, while the roads may be windy, and some have bad visibility around those bends, traffic volumes are low enough that you can actually hear cars and time your ride (if you are not in a hurry and can pull off for a second) if you prefer to be absolutely safe.

      So don’t slag Waiheke. Yes, it is hilly, but it is quite nice for cycling.

      1. “Hans, have you been to Waiheke recently?”

        Click on the link that is his user name. It lists his place of residence.

  8. The initiative by WBC is a gimmick, but a useful one for a rural bus route that also caters to tourists. The installation of bike racks on buses is one of those lazy policy ideas that transport ministries grasp as some kind of solution to the bikes on public transport problem. Hopefully, it won’t catch on to the wider bus network.
    Disclosure: I have had a fair bit of experience in Australia on policy and project delivery for improving cycling access to PT, particularly in Melbourne.

    If the money is there to be spent on a project to improve bike access to public transport routes(racks fitted to a bus costs approximately A$3500 per bus), it would be better to put the money into bike parking at bus stops and railway stations. In my experience, A$3500 buys 5-6 marine grade stainless steel bike hoops and gets them concreted securely into the ground. I’d rather stick them at a bus stop or railway station to allow regular bus or train users to ride from beyond walking distance (between 2-5km – the realistic cycling catchment to a PT stop) to board the service.

    In some areas, particularly the urban fringe areas and areas with tourist potential (i.e. served by railtrails or the like), the bike racks on the front of buses can be useful, but they have some pitfalls. How do you manage community expectations around carrying bikes on buses (both for and against)? What happens when the 4th cyclist wants to board the bus? Or if an operator’s entire fleet isn’t fitted with racks, how can a consistent level of service be guaranteed? How can you measure demand to work out what the optimum capacity for racks on a bus and what alternatives (trailers behind buses) are there when do racks no longer fit the bill?

    These initiatives are at best transport ‘theatre’ to mollify a noisy cycling lobby and at worst a way to forestall more meaningful ways of integrating bikes with public transport, such as better parking at stops and stations. It should work in the Waiheke context, but the wider application of these racks are limited. As an aside, Brisbane City Council got rid of their bike racks on buses some years ago. When my former employer was looking at implementing a bike rack on bus strategy, BCC offered us to them cheaply as a job lot at little better than scrap value.


    1. Harold, I agree with your comments about lazy ‘bikewashing’, but I do have one point to make. What use is a bike rack at the stop you get on at?

      When living in Melbourne I would very frequently take my bike on the train. This wasn’t because I rode to my local station and had no where to leave it (I lived very close to the station which had bike parking anyway), but because I needed it at the other end to ride to my destination.

      Having my bike with me meant I could visit friends in the arse end of Epping without riding the whole way out (maybe two hours ride from Richmond), but also without having to walk for thirty minutes from the station which I would have to do if I didn’t have my bike.

      Bike racks at stops and stations are only of use for half the journey, in the Auckland context that’s only of use if you are headed downtown.

    2. “The installation of bike racks on buses is one of those lazy policy ideas that transport ministries grasp as some kind of solution to the bikes on public transport problem. Hopefully, it won’t catch on to the wider bus network.”

      See, that is a good example of making lots of assumptions, and then dissing the idea based on those assumptions.

      Bikes on buses (and specifically attempts to get bikes on buses in Auckland, or the success of getting them on Waiheke) is NOT driven by policy, or bikewashing, or whatever your concerns are. This is a concept that has been pushed for for years by a number of our key Auckland cycle advocates, as a cheap way of extending opportunities for cyclists. It isn’t intended to replace bikeway funding and design (which Cycle Action is pushing relentlessly) – it is just one piece of a puzzle in a more cycle-friendly city. I repeat again – this is paid for by a private company, who feels it will be a successful thing to do, and gain them extra customers, as well as make Waiheke into even more of a bike destination.

      Not theatre.

      1. Max,

        With respect, you are wrong. My ‘assumptions’ as you called them are based on evidence, that inconvenient thing that a lot of public transport advocates don’t like when it gets in the way of promoting their hobbyhorses.

        In my former job, I contacted Toronto’s TTC to get a copy of the report Paul Mees referred to in his book (he used it as part of his lectures on transport and land-use planning at Melbourne Uni), I also was able to get the evaluations done by BCC and Translink in Brisbane around the usage of their bike racks on buses and talked extensively to BCC staff as well as ACTION in Canberra to get their assessments of bike racks on buses. And do you know what? All negative. My ‘assumptions’ were formed as a result of sceptical inquiry and referring to the evidence. That was part of my professional training. Was it part of yours?

        Bike racks on buses do very little to assist public transport. It adds no value to the majority of PT users. But it’s a great way for some ‘cycling advocates’ (but not all, others see bike racks on buses for what they are – as a diversion from the main game of getting more people riding more often) to push an evolutionary dead end for both public transport and cycling.

        The bike share scheme is, I think needing to move beyond the CBD to (as you quite rightly say) to the middle and outer suburbs. Much like car sharing is starting to do in the inner Melbourne LGAs. Then it will provide the kind of ‘turn up and go’ coverage at the other end of a linehaul PT journey to destinations beyond walking distance. But that’s a problem that Australia and New Zealand are yet to fully address. As an aside, the great value of the Melbourne Bike Share scheme is its ability to get people to the CBD fringe that’s beyond Hoddle’s grid (i.e. Southbank, South Melbourne, Docklands).


  9. NickR,

    Clearly, not all bike/PT trips can be served by racks on buses or by hoops at stations. The Parkiteerbike cages were an effort to provide secure parking at stations for at least one end of a trip and to help manage bikes off trains, particularly at peak hour. The overarching vision was that with sufficient quantities of Parkiteer cages across Melbourne’s rail network, people would be able to keep a bike at both ends of their PT trip securely in the cages and use each bike as needed as the first and last legs of their trips. This is a legitimate segment of the cycling market that is barely tapped (bike share systems can help in the CBD, but not at the suburban end). The other element of providing bike parking at the point of entry to the PT network is to provide a more sustainable version of park and ride in much smaller land areas than the existing P&Rs at stations.

    So in short, commuting trips can be well handled by more hoops and rails at PT nodes, but trips where bike access is needed at both ends and leisure trips can be less easily accommodated. Finally, I have to say that bikes have no place on a serious suburban or interurban rail network. The days are past where bikes can be allowed on peak period services and with off-peak and counter-peak patronage continuing to grow, even there, bikes form an impediment to getting passengers onboard (a bike takes up the space of approx. 4 passengers).


  10. I totally agree about bike-and-ride potential, but surely this has little to do with bike racks on buses. That’s about having you’re bike at the other end. And while having a bike in a cage at each end would be effective (if a little decadent) for a simple regular point-to-point commute, it does very little for mobility that isn’t constrained to a weekday work trip. I took a bus direct to work each day in Melbourne, that was fine for me, but being able to take my bike on the train in the evenings and weekends to get around wherever I wanted to go was the reason I didn’t buy a car.

    I don’t think the answer is just to ban bikes of trains, the answer should be to better design the layouts and procedures to accommodate them. In the case of buses there is no impact on passenger capacity or flow with a rack on the front, that’s basically free.

  11. Nick,

    part of the reason for better bike parking facilities is to provide an alternative for the 2 or 3 car household to lose one car (or more) by substituting the active transport trip to the station/bus stop for a motorised trip. Bike park and ride is better and more efficient for everyone than a car park and ride.

    In terms of bikes on trains, rail networks reach a point where the carrying of things other than people on trains is no longer possible because there is no longer capacity to accommodate them and the opportunity cost of carrying bikes on trains (3-4 pax) undermines high rates of ridership that makes PT viable. Paul Mees agrees with me on this one (Transport for Suburbia, p. 191). To get back to the original topic, on the following page, Mees cites one of the few empirical studies into bike racks on buses (undertaken by the TTC in Toronto in 2006) that shows the patronage and the return on investment was very small in order to satisfy a vocal minority.


    1. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and support the bike park-n-ride concept, just not sold on the ‘other end’ issue.

      One thing to consider is that here in Auckland we don’t have any way to cross the harbour by bicycle, save a long detour down to one of the inner harbour ferries. On the Northern Busway some bus bike racks might be warranted until such time as we get our long awaited cycle path on the harbour bridge.

      One thing with Melbourne’s bike hire scheme, I always thought they had the stations is the wrong place. The CBD is very walkable and totally saturated with frequent tram corridors, it’s a very easy place to get around once you are there. IMHO they should put the hire bike stations out in the inner and middle suburban stations and tram stops, where they would fulfil a need for ‘last mile’ transport rather than simply duplicating it in the city.

  12. These buses are really helpful as i take my spin bike with me when ever i go out of town. As it really help me for doing my exercise when i am not at home.

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