Bike Racks Debut on Buses Across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

New Yorkers are finally getting to try out a multi-modal transportation option that’s old hat to residents of other major American cities — bike racks on buses. Sunday marked the debut of front-mounted bike racks on the S53 and S93 buses across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

One of the first bikes to cross the Verrazano Narrows by bus. Photo: Meredith Sladek
One of the first bikes to cross the Verrazano-Narrows by bus. Photo: Meredith Sladek

The MTA purchased 38 bike racks at a cost of $42,000 and installed them on 31 buses as part of a one-year pilot program. The agency will evaluate three different models: Byk-Rak 2 Position, Sportworks Veloporter 2, and Sportworks DL2. If successful, the MTA may expand the program, starting with other bus routes across bridges.

The racks have carried bikes on 12 trips so far, including two this morning, the MTA said.

Streetsblog reader Meredith Sladek used the racks on a Sunday trip to Bay Ridge from Staten Island. It was a cinch, even for a newbie, she says.

“I have never used a bus rack before — hard to believe but true — and it took me about five seconds, tops. The instructions were printed on the rack itself,” she wrote in an email. “The drivers were great ambassadors: Both were really genial, helpful, patient, and informative.”

The MTA has also released an instructional video on how to use the racks. Sadly, it does not feature lyrics by Mr. Theo — but Stephen Colbert’s smiling face does make an appearance.

  • Once these racks get really popular, they are gonna wish they had opted for the 3 bikes per bus option!

  • BBnet3000

    Like every other city did a decade ago.

  • bob88

    Kudos!!

  • ahwr

    Anyone care to venture a guess of how long until the first bike gets stolen off one of the racks?

  • anon

    As long as the bike owner is paying attention to the rack while the bike is on it as the video recommends, I can’t see theft being a big issue.

  • RobNapi

    Jersey City and Hoboken has had them on their buses for several years now

  • Probably never.

  • Kevin Love

    For most cities with bus racks, theft is not a problem.

    If one is really worried, then get a Dutch rear wheel lock.

    See:

    http://www.dutchbikebits.com/locks/axa-victory-wheel-lock

  • Kevin Love

    Even three bikes is really not enough. Public transit has to be reliable to be useful. If I have to wait while 2-3 buses go by before I can use one, then I am going to be late for where I am going.

  • BBnet3000

    The only time I tried to use a bike on a bus rack (a 3-bike one), I was the 4th person with a bike to show up at the stop (the first stop on the line). Fortunately one of the other people only needed the bike on the first end of her trip and volunteered to lock her bike up at that end. Needless to say I didn’t bother again.

    This isn’t to say that these racks shouldn’t be on buses over the bridge, but that shouldn’t detract from the primary goal of enabling riding over the bridge or a BRT-style line where you could bring bikes on board (indeed, there is a line in Seattle with regular buses where they allow people to bring bikes on board only for one stop to cross a non-bikeable bridge).

  • Kevin Love

    What a horrible bike in the video. I’ll start with it being illegal to use in NYC since it does not have a bell or reflectors. It cannot be used at night since there are no lights. And no fenders means it cannot be used on wet roads without throwing a shower of filth on the rider and anyone unfortunate enough to be riding behind.

    Decent bikes are manufactured in NYC. Why not show them used in this type of video? See:

    http://www.worksmancycles.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/dutchie-design.html

  • Joe R.

    Reflective tires are an option instead of reflectors ( http://www.safeny.ny.gov/bike-vt.htm#sec1236 ). I think most tires sold nowadays do in fact have a reflective strip on them. I also think rims with reflective strips like mine would meet the requirement. The problem with reflectors is they cause massive wheel imbalance unless used in pairs. Even then, sometimes it’s hard to get things balanced properly. I personally think reflectors belong in the dust bin of history. We should put side LED lights on the frame instead. None of the issues of reflectors, plus they would be a heck of a lot more visible.

  • Joe R.

    I’m in your camp. I wouldn’t bother using public transit with a bike unless I could carry it on board. The way NYC has a habit of paying top dollar but getting substandard equipment it wouldn’t surprise me if the racks fell off the buses, or the bike just fell out. NYC should allow bikes on buses during off-peak hours.

  • Miles Bader

    Of course that’s the real problem with bus bike racks: they don’t scale worth a damn, and so are almost useless in any place with a decent bike mode share…

  • Kevin Love

    Which is why in The Netherlands buses do not have these racks.

  • ahwr

    there is a line in Seattle with regular buses where they allow people to bring bikes on board only for one stop to cross a non-bikeable bridge

    Where is that? Are the buses that let you bring your bike on board in service? The only thing I can think of is the SR 520 floating bridge that has dead heading buses pick people up for free over the bridge. Are you sure they let the bikes on the bus, even on the ones making equipment moves?

  • MFS

    @CEJr:disqus when are we going to have the instructional bike rack rap video for NYC feat. DJ Bike Box? Inquiring minds want to know!

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