Making the link

2010_06_18 002
Photo courtesy Transportation Research at McGill (TRAM)

McGill researchers explore how to better integrate bicycles with transit

By McGill Reporter Staff

What might Montreal’s public transit system look like if bicycles were regularly used to access it welcomed on board a greater number of transit vehicles?

That is the question that McGill transportation researchers are asking this summer in an online survey of Montreal cyclists and transit users. Researchers at TRAM (Transportation Research at McGill) have looked at cycling and public transit issues separately, but this is the first time a detailed study into the two is being conducted in Montreal.

“We are talking about more than simply installing bike racks on buses or allowing bikes on trains,” says Jacob Larsen, a research fellow with TRAM. “Integrating these two modes is about understanding peoples’ public transit usage and seeing to what extent bicycles can increase their options or decrease their travel time. That might involve more attention to the number and type of bicycle parking spots at transit stations, allowing more bikes on transit vehicles, locating the city’s bicycle paths around transit stations, or some combination of these things.”

While these ideas may seem novel here in Montreal, they are being successfully implemented in Europe, Japan, and some places in North America. In Portland, Oregon, light rail transit (LRT) vehicles allow cyclists to hang their bicycles on easy-to-use hooks while they are on board. Amsterdam has constructed a three-storey bicycle garage next to its Central Station (and plans two more) to meet the estimated demand for 16,000 bicycle parking spaces by 2020. And in Japan, bicycles are the preferred method used by rural and suburban workers to access commuter trains, and the number of workers using their bicycles to access transit is growing steadily.

“The STM and AMT have expressed great interest in this survey,” reports Julie Marleau-Bachand, another TRAM researcher working on this project. “We hope to provide them with some really useful analysis about Montrealers’ habits and preferences when it comes to integrating transit and cycling. Specifically, who are the people the transit agencies should be targeting: regular transit users or occasional ones? Are those people living in the suburbs the ideal market or is it those living in the city centre?”

“This is an exciting subject to be delving into,” adds Jacob Larsen. “We believe that the combination of transit with cycling may be a situation where the total is greater than the sum of its parts. And we’re especially excited to hear what Montrealers have to say on the subject.”

Residents of the Montreal region can share their thoughts and ideas by filling out the online survey until the end of the month. The address is