20 October 2007

Micro Multi-Modal

I have been thinking about the recently released downtown Columbia traffic study, and specifically how to mitigate increased traffic. My focus has been on little things; things that can be done for a moderate cost, in a short term time frame, and would provide at least the promise of a reduction in traffic.

That being said, I believe the volume of people coming into and out of downtown will continue to increase. The key here is to move some from cars to other means of transportation. One way that I believe we can get more cars out of downtown is to install bicycle racks (or even possibly bicycle lockers) adjacent to every bus shelter in the county. This would extend the effective range of people that could easily access bus shelters and the Howard Transit bus routes. Even using my tired old Diamond Back mountain bike, I can reduce a half-hour walk to under ten minutes. If a bus line is within ten minutes of any residence, the convenience of the bus system becomes greater. The greater the convenience, the more potential riders.

This is just one small project that can increase mass transportation use. The cost is relatively small and the program can be implemented fairly quickly. Taking these small steps now will help us transition from being the most car dependent locality (see Total Annual Vehicle Miles) in Maryland to a community that provides a variety of means of travel in the County.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Making the local bus system more accessible by making it more amenable to biking to and from it is a very sensible, economical, and green idea.

I would suggest, however, the idea be enhanced to start with first adding bike racks to every bus. Many other municipalities have done so, permitting commuters to further extend the viability of a bus-based commute, using their bikes at both ends of the commute to reach both more distant homes and more distant workplaces (or errands). Doing so would also be a fraction of the cost of putting bike racks at every bus stop.

Secondary to that would be the introduction of higher-cost, but more secure bike racks to a subset of bus stops, those with the highest embarkation/debarkation rates and those where there are large amounts of walkable destinations nearby.

The third phase could be to place bike racks at bus shelters on an as -requested basis.

Anonymous said...

There is merit to the bike rack on the bus idea. That probably would increase the use of bikes.

Aside from that, I don’t know anyone who has ever said “I would take my bike to destination X if only there was a bike rack conveniently nearby.” It is a crime that the bike paths in Columbia are not used by anyone except people who walk from their apartments to their restaurant jobs downtown and by joggers. Bikes are not going to work because people are fat and lazy.

John G. Boyle said...

Wow - great ideas!

I wonder if the size of the HoCo busses would prevent the addition of bike racks? The only time I've seen them have been on big, city busses...

Tom said...

How about making downtown a "no car zone". That would eliminate the congestion and would foster much more creative thinking on resolving the downtown "movement" issue and allow for higher density.
It might even cause GGP to rethink keeping the Mall in downtown Columbia. The theory goes its better if you recreate your future than if you competition does it for you. Perhaps the future of the downtown is more vibrant and prosporous without a Mall.