Clarkson GO station bike shelter in Mississauga. Photos courtesy of Donald Wiedman.
Bike to Transit surveys GTA commuters who bike and take the train
Story by Jonah Brunet
A survey of 100 bike-to-GO commuters produced by Donald Wiedman of Bike to Transit shows that the GTA, with its steadily increasing population along with the increasing popularity of commuter cycling, is once again in need of a bicycle infrastructure boost.
Wiedman collected responses online from commuters all across the GTA in the summer of 2014 and found that the number of people cycling to GO stations nearly doubled each year from 2011 to 2014. More bike rack space and bicycle accommodation on rush-hour trains are what Wiedman says respondents requested most.
In 2008, Metrolinx spent $5 million on bike shelters at GO stations, bike racks on municipal busses, and other cycling infrastructure as part of its BikeLinx program. However, seven years later, the bike shelters are overcrowded, bike racks are being removed from many TTC busses, and so it's about time for another investment in bike-to-transit accommodation, according to Wiedman's survey results.
"My ultimate want is for Metrolinx to get in the game and make bicycles a serious part of The Big Move," says Wiedman, referring to the transit authority's long-term 2008 plan. "Bike shelters and bike racks on buses are great, but they should [also] hire staff dedicated solely to studying and promoting cycling to local transit connections."
The survey also found that the two most popular transit destinations for cyclists are the Burlington GO station and the Bloor line of the TTC subway. The busiest bike shelter was found at Mississauga's Clarkson GO station, with over 80 bikes crammed in the rack. Wiedman says his survey is the type of work Metrolinx should be doing, as it provides key insights on where new developments are most needed - and research could be done on a larger scale.
"Dedicated Metrolinx staff need to study why Clarkson GO station has 80 bikes parked every day, yet the likes of Scarborough station only one, two or three," he says.
Aside from answering questions about cyclist volume station-by-station, Wiedman's survey goes on to address some of the more human elements of commuter cycling. When asked why they bike to transit, saving money, saving time, and extra convenience were the respondents' main motivating factors. And the greatest challenge, according to respondents, was the need to always be super alert---particularly on routes without bike lanes.
For Wiedman, who bikes to transit regularly, the sweat, the dirty clothes and even hefting his bike up and down stairs, can't compare to the benefits offered by commuter cycling. He says he found each and every trip truly enjoyable because one thing was missing at the end: The stress of fighting for a parking spot.
Let's hope that, with a little help from Metrolinx and a few extra bike racks, Wiedman's and many other cyclist's commutes can remain relatively stress-free in the GTA.
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