Sunday, May 26, 2013

Integration of bicycling and MAX for long distance trips

Portland has well known as a bicycle friendly community. Various programs including SmartTrips, bicycle way finding system, incentive programs for bicycling and transportation management association promote using a bicycle as a primary mode instead of an automobile. Researches show significant association of bicycle infrastructure with bicycle uses.(Pucher, J., Dill, J., Handy, S., 2010) Accordingly,  Portland spurs the expanding bicycle path network to provide cohesive connectivity for bike riders.

 In Portland BicyclePlan for 2030, the goal of bicycle use is to encourage bicycling under 3 mile short trips for all trip purposes as an alternative of a car. It classifies Portlanders into four types of people such as not interested in bicycling, strong and fearless bicyclists, enthused and confident bicyclists, and interested but concerned bicyclists. It aims at attracting people to regard a bicycle as an inseparable part of life by understanding the degree of how much familiar with a bicycle. The target of mode share for bicycle is 25 percent until 2030, and currently 6 percent of commuters ride bicycles although it is almost over 10 times national average. The question is how to achieve this goal. By encouraging bicycle not only for short trips but also for long distance trips from suburban area of Portland, the target mode share of bicycle would be more easily achieved.  

More specifically, what I am suggesting is to provide strategic integration between current public transportation and a bicycle for relatively long trips. The suggestion about the connection between bikes and Metro is included in a bicycle comprehensive plan, however, it is still not enough integration provided in terms of  weak bike path network and pedestrian sidewalks in suburban area. Also, secured bike and ride facilities are available only at Sunset, Beaverton, and Gresham Central transit centers although most MAX stations and WES stations provides bike racks. There is no bike stations where various bike services are available such as rentals, repairs, bike washing and showers .

Incorporating bicycling with public transportation are both beneficial in terms of increasing the demand of public transit and bicycle use. Travelers would receive benefits when they access to public transportation stations by bicycling instead of other modes including driving and walk. Bicycle connects trip ends and public transit stations at lower cost compared to automobile such as alternative as park-and ride travel behavior, and at faster speed compared to walk. Transit enables bicyclers to travel a long distance trip so that travelers do not need to give up bicycling because of long distance. Considering these advantages of integration between bicycling and public transportation, travels originating at suburban area of Portland would be a good target to increase the ridership of bicycle. Further, it would reduce VMT effectively by reducing long distance trips. Because travelers enter Portland city by MAX, it also prevents driving for additional trips in a city.

It would be worth to go over strategies of how integrate bicycling and public transportation before thinking about any appropriate strategies for Portland. There are four strategies which have been applied most commonly(Krezek and Stonebraker, 2011). The first strategy is bike on transit. Bicyclist usually prefers this option because they can ride a bike around both origin and destination area before and after taking transit service. The second one is bike to transit. For this option, secured parking facilities are important to attract bicyclists. The third option is two bikes which means travelers ride two different bikes when they access to transit station and when they egress from a destination stop to a real destination. The last strategy is shared bikes.

The suggested strategies among four options for Portland include bicycle to transit and shared bikes. The first option is suggested by Krezek and Stonebrake as the most cost-effective strategy from a comprehensive analysis, and it seems to be applicable to Portland. Although bicyclist preferred to bike on transit, the enough room for bicycles is a necessary condition. During morning and afternoon peak hours, the inside of fleet is already congested so bicycle to transit seems to be more feasible option under the situation where the demand of MAX for cyclist increases than now. To attract the demand for the second option, my suggestion is to increase the secured bike and parking facilities over stations in suburban area. In addition, building more bicycle path network to link stations and major residential area in suburban area would increase the attractiveness for travelers to access to MAX station by bicycling and take MAX to enter Portland.     

Bike sharing would be another good option for promoting the use of bicycle and MAX for long distance traveler heading to Portland. The one of major concerns in cycling is whether there are parking facility at each trip end, and bike sharing program releases this burden. Bike-sharing is cost-effective mode compared to automobile or car-sharing. Or, it can be considered as another public transportation service with a reasonable membership fee in suburban area where the frequency and the number of bus lines which have stops at MAX stations are limited . Recently, Portland made a contract with Alta Bicycle Share for bike-share system in the central city of Portland, and it will start its service from 2014 spring. In order to take advantage of bike-sharing program not only for short trip but also for a long distance trip, it is required to expand its service area to include suburban area of Portland.  Denver already provided bike sharing mode option, and more than 20 percent of members use bike sharing to access to and/or egress from light rail or bus stations. 

*Academic references
1. Pucher, J. and Buehler, R., 2009. Integrating Bicycling and Public Transport in north America. Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 12, No. 3. pp79-104.
2. Pucher, J., Dill, J., Handy, S., 2010. Infrastructure, programs, and policies to increase bicycling: An international review. Preventive Medicine 50. pp106-125.

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