Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bike Racks and the Port Authority

Bike racks on the buses is a good idea in many cities. Bike racks on the buses in Pittsburgh is a bad idea.

The Port Authority has run their "Rack & Roll" program for several years. It has been a complete and total failure yet the Port Authority is still forging ahead with this program with plans to further expand the service.

The reasoning given is that "the racks are free from a State grant". What is never mentioned to the public however is that PAT pays to install and maintain the racks. Given the Port Authority's dire financial picture of late, this is one expense that needs to be eliminated.

The local Allegheny County biking lobby which has pushed for these bike racks doesn't even promote the program they wanted. The Port Authority barely promoted it. In the many years that this program has been around, I have seen a total of one bike actually using the a bike rack. I had to do a double take just to make sure I wasn't seeing things.

Pittsburgh is not a bike town. It never has been. The local politicians and the bike lobby have tried to make it a bike town however. They have failed miserably. Pittsburgh is loaded with narrow streets, roads in bad condition, steep hills as well as inconsiderate drivers. To make Pittsburgh a bike town, you'd literally have to either ban cars or widen every road in the area. Neither is a viable option.

Granted the Port Authority blew it by only doing racks on certain routes. In the Port Authority's true style of operations, they usually had rack buses on non-rack routes and non-rack buses on rack routes. This style of operation would kill off most attempts by bikers to use the racks however, the second wave of racks eliminated most of that type of operation and still no use.

When a bike rack actually being used turns into big news, you know the program is a total failure. We should be seeing bikes on the buses on a regular basis if the program was a success.

The Port Authority should just let the program die off. Let the racks stay and as they fall off or get damaged, don't replace them. Wasting time and the taxpayer's money on further expanding a program that not even the local bike lobby promotes and has proven itself to be a failure in Pittsburgh is foolish.

The Port Authority earns the first Lance for the further expansion of their "Rack & Roll" program.

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