An expanded network of modules will work cost-effectively for many transit stops, but it doesn’t address the full range of concerns that keep people using their cars. For a complete solution, a bike and/or multimodal transit center is required. A transit center provides a minimum of 20 fee-based, secure bicycle parking spaces operated by access control systems. Transit centers are generally staffed and offer a variety of services such as restrooms, lockers, bicycle repairs, sales and rentals. Multimodal transit sites will also include parking and rental for electric vehicles, bike-sharing and, in some cases, car-sharing facilities. Such sites make alternative transportation methods available to even the most reticent of users. While full multimodal sites aren’t a cost-effective (or “universal”) solution for every transit stop, when combined with the new non-staffed modules, they can create a full-scale multi-access network that works for everyone from students to grandmothers.
Site and Location Analysis
The vision is to offer a bike or multimodal facility at every transit stop, metropolitan center, shopping and entertainment area, corporate and college campus in America. But walking before we run (or bike) requires that initial locations be optimal so some selections must be made. The location of a bike or multimodal transit facility within a community may be a parking lot, intersection, or most pertinently, any existing or planned transit station. Requirements for the location include:
• Access to transit • Demand
• Land ownership • Zoning
Recommendations for the location include:
• Access • Employment
• Connectivity • Demand
• Proximity to residences, educational facilities, etc.
Either after or during selection of a location for the multimodal facility, a specific site must also be identified. Some criteria for site selection include:
• Safety and security
• Development potential
The first bike-transit facility in the United States is the Bikestation located in Long Beach, Calif. The full-service facility, opened in March of 1996 and expanded in 2005, is located at the Transit Mall Hub on the Promenade and occupies 1,580 square feet of highly visible, well-lit and secure space. It is being expanded again to include e-bikes, e-scooters, bike- and car-sharing, and showers, and will be the first truly multimodal hub in the United States
One of the best ways to predict multimodal transit center demand is to evaluate existing facilities that share similar characteristics. In an urban hub such as Long Beach, Calif., for example, users represent all age groups, are 70 percent male, and 38 percent are accessing their place of employment from the multimodal transit site. In retirement-oriented Santa Barbara, Calif., 68 percent of the users are accessing recreational facilities, 58 percent are over 40, and 45 percent of the users are female. A bike-friendly location like Münster, Germany, regularly uses most of its 3,300 parking spaces, while Berkeley, Calif., is doubling its 77 spaces to accommodate user demand.
Usage growth at bike and multimodal transit centers, if based on existing facilities, is relatively predictable. During the first 12 months of operation, usage tends to be limited as users gradually find the facilities and make the switch from their cars. As the idea begins to take hold, supported by concentrated marketing efforts, the second 12-month pattern is one of rapid growth. As years go by, marketing and incentive campaigns need to be regularly updated to assure conversion of new users on an ongoing basis. Strong marketing efforts are required to support its growth. Local culture and location, of course, also play a strong role in growth of demand. For example, the Berkeley facility reached capacity after one year due to its central location within a BART station and its support by the transit-minded population.
Seasons also determine multimodal transit usage. As would be expected, usership increases in the spring and summer and drops off in late fall and winter. This is partly due to weather patterns, but more particularly to hours of available daylight.
Does the availability of a multimodal transit center change patterns of behavior? Sixty-four percent of users of a Seattle bike-transit facility said they would have used their cars if the facility was not available! It’s interesting to note that the users of full-service bike-transit centers (such as the one in Seattle) are often those who desire lockers, secure facilities and amenities.
These may be called “discretionary” transit customers in that they can choose to drive or bike. Most live or work up to three miles from a transit station/hub and traditionally drive to the hub or to their destination but choose to use their bicycle due to the availability of the multimodal facility. Of course, multimodal centers also attract many “non-discretionary” customers who do not have access to automobiles or have chosen to use mass transit and their bicycles as their primary form of transportation.