Was the "Rack it and Rocket" program designed to fail?
Story by Jeff Carson
On Oct. 16 the TTC was ordered by the Ministry of Labour to stop or limit use of bike racks on more than 90 per cent of the TTC’s bus fleet.
The restrictions affect about 100 Nova Articulated and roughly 1,600 Orion VII buses.
Bike racks on the Nova Articulated buses are completely locked out for now. Those buses were running on four routes: 7 Bathurst, 29 Dufferin, 53E Steeles East Express and 85 Sheppard East.
Bikes with large accessories, such as baby seats or baskets, will not be allowed to use the racks on Orion VII buses, unless the accessory can be removed. When bikes aren’t permitted on the front-mounted racks they may be able to be brought aboard the bus, but only if there is space.
The ban stems from an ergonomic report from the Ministry of Labour and concerns driver sight lines.
According to TTC spokesperson Brad Ross, the TTC is looking at an engineered solution, among other options, to get bike racks in use again. "An engineered solution would be, perhaps, lowering the rack somehow, doing something different with the bike rack," Ross said. There is no timetable for that process at this point.
It’s unclear how many cyclists will be affected by the reduction in available bike racks, as the TTC isn't currently tracking bike rack usage.
We reached out to Cycle Toronto for a comment, and to find out if anything was being done to push for this issue to be fixed, but had not heard back at the time of publishing. Cycle Toronto does promote combining cycling and transit, specifically with its recent Start Cycling campaign.
For cyclists living outside of downtown, who would otherwise have to ride on large streets with faster speed limits, the bike racks provide a safe way to bring their bike into the core. Bike racks can also be useful for children, the elderly, for people commuting in areas with steep hills or who are commuting a very long way, and for any cyclist who wants to escape the elements. Many other cities use bus racks to enhance inter-modal (bike-transit) commuter offerings.
Bikes can still be brought onto the subway, but only during off-peak hours (before 6:30 a.m., 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and after 7:00 p.m. Monday to Friday).
Here is a list of accessible TTC stations with elevators: Downsview, Eglinton West, St George, Queen’s Park, Osgoode, St Andrew, Union, Queen, Dundas, Bloor-Yonge, St Clair, Davisville, Eglinton, York Mills, Sheppard-Yonge, North York Centre, Finch, Kipling, Jane, Dundas West, Bathurst, Spadina, St George, Bloor-Yonge, Broadview, Pape, Main Street, Victoria Park, Kennedy, Sheppard-Yonge, Bayview, Bessarion, Leslie, Don Mills. And on the Scarborough RT: Kennedy, Scarborough Centre.
When the TTC first announced they'd be adding racks to buses they said the entire fleet would have them. In the 2009 brochure below it says: "The program’s expansion plan includes bike racks on the entire bus fleet by the end of 2010."
It's 2014 and now we're being told the opposite. If you want to contact the Ministry of Labour and the TTC to inquire as to when this issue will be addressed, please do. It's not acceptable that cyclists in this city are once again being told: No room for you. Rack it and rock it? Ya right!
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